Scaffolding Student Accountability

  • On 2012-11-12
  • driving, student accountability, teacher conferencing

A conversation I have been having with teachers I have been working with for the past 6 months revolves around creating structures of accountability for students. This stems from the analogy I use to contextualise the importance of scaffolding student centred learning.

The essence of the argument is that you cannot learn how to drive UNLESS YOU DRIVE. If we are setting up students to develop the skills and understandings of experienced learners then we need to allow them to drive. If the teacher is driving the learning then the students may grasp something theoretically but they would not actually attain the deep learning. Just because you can drive a virtual car on a game machine does not give you the ability to drive a car in real life.

Teachers driving the learning DOES occur. Whenever I see passive students I know that at least part of the teaching has been driven. It is important (I would actually say it is critical) to scaffold learning within classes, learning environments and school such that the students can be responsible for their own learning and drive their learning. The idea is that teachers set the destination of where they want the students to drive (like driving instructors do) and then coach, guide and develop the appropriate skills and understandings so that the students can actually drive there.

This is important for more than just having performers within a school environment. If we, as educators, are interested in developing empathetic, thoughtful citizens and contributing members of society, it behoves us to have young people today develop the wherewithal to become adults with all the sundry obligations and responsibilities. Again they can only learn this by allowing them to deal with it – all of it – consequences and benefits.

One of the reasons I share this today is that I received an email from one of the teachers I have had this conversation with. She shared with me that she and her colleagues teaching grades 2- 4 have set up a system of student goal setting and teacher conferencing to begin the students developing their own capacity to aim for and achieve personal goals. One of the aspects of system involves the students having learning goal tags which they hang around their necks.

“They pick them up each morning and use them to remind them of where they are going and also of their learning goal. They get rewarded when they get 5 ticks in a week with raffle tickets or something else if it is written on their goal tag.”

“The goal tags were designed to be a little bit more tangible for the grade 2’s and something they could look at regularly and have checked after each session  instead of at learning conferences. They appreciate the positive language used in the success criteria and regularly do look at it.  I’ve had students sit down at the back of the class, then look at their tag and see they were meant to be at the front and go “oooh” and quickly move.   I can also say things like are you remembering your learning goal and they move or et themselves organised which I find more positive too.”

You can find the tags she sent me here: Sample Grade 2 Goal Tags.

What structures do you use to scaffold the students being accountable for their learning?



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