- On 15-09-2012
“Can you consistently perform if you are not accountable for your own performance?”
In a discovery session with a group of teachers recently we explored the skills and understandings they saw missing from their year 12 students to enable them to perform well in their end of year exams. Our purpose was to use backward planning to map what would need to be developed in each of the preceding years if we were intending to support student performance at year 12.
At one point, as I was listing the ideas they were bringing up, I had a realisation. I then asked them the question above. We then discussed some of the ways they challenged the students to be accountable for their learning. The main one was as the students entered Year 11 by having the students do an assignment that was at the end of Year 12 level. The intention was to shake the perceptions of the students and have them realise that the road to performing well in the final Year 12 exams was to grow up and be accountable for their own learning journey.
I don’t know how many teachers complain about the lack of ownership of students of their learning. I do hear a lot of comments about spoon feeding and teachers needing to put in a lot of effort to support the students to develop themselves.
What I would like to suggest to you is that we need to develop structures of accountability where we gradually release responsibility for learning from the teachers to student. This is not a new idea as Vygotsky spoke of this idea 50 years ago. More recent research has back this approach for cognitive development. However I want to extend it further than just a classroom pedagogical result. How could we design learning through a student’s years such that they develop being accountable for their own performance. It isn’t our job to make them learn … that is their job.
What sort of structures could we begin to embed into the way we teach and the students learn that will naturally lead them to becoming responsible learners who are accountable for their own performance? Could we possibly plan this gradual release as a natural part of the way they learn? I believe we can but it would need teachers to think from the whole school picture not just their domain and class responsibilities.
More on this at another time, but I do want to say this is one of the tenets that we build our workshops upon.