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Self Directed Learning in MLE

Started by Sarah Quinlan 08 May 2015 2:40pm () Replies (29)

Hi, I am currently doing an inquiry into self directed learning within a modern learning environment. I'm really keen to learn more about how students (particularily young ones) are encouraged to self direct and how this is effectively managed and controlled in an environment with large numbers. Any help or advice would be greatlty appreciated!


  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 28 Jul 2015 7:54am ()

    Kia ora all,

    It is great to see so many working to enable our children as self directed / regulated learners. The reality is  this should be the case regardless if we are in a collaborative T & L environment or a self contained learning environment ( In PC talk thats a MLE or classroom)The challenge  for all in the context of noise and self management is how are the KC's modelled, encouraged, taught and made explicit in our school? Each school needs to take a very close look at the KC's (and not just Managing self) and reach agreement about what they mean to us, how children can develop them and what we all understand them to mean

    The second thing we need to consider (again regardless of collaborative or self contained space) is if our school is learner  (student) centred or teacher centred. There is a big difference. In a learner and learning centred school children are given the opportunity to progressively manage self, lead their learning, become self regulated and self directed. In a teacher centred school the teacher controls the child. I encourage you to look at Michael Absolum's work- it is very useful. Bottom line is we can have teacher centred schools that look like learning centred schools. It is just that the teachers are more subtle at controlling the children! Again have a look at the rubrics- they will really challenge you!

    If we are really clear that our priorities are in the order below any conversation with parents is much easier (be it noise, E learning, collaborate T & L spaces etc).

    Our educative purpose should be something like:

    Improving learning outcomes for learners, enabling self regulated learners, enhancing hauora

    and we achieve this by....

    1. A focus on quality teaching and learning

    2. A priority of a learning focused environment

    3. Teachers collaborating to do 1 & 2

    4. Effective and enabling use of resources to achieve our educative purpose (ICT, staffing, furniture...)

    5. Using our space to achieve our educative purpose.


    90% of what is proposed in a collaborative T & L environment can happen in a self contained learning environment. What is critical is that conversations we have with staff, parents, children, community are framed from our educative purpose and No's 1-5 (I call theses the building blocks for quality T & L). The 10% we get through a collaborative T & L space is powerful but be really clear, collaboration between people who are not sure what they are doing is really not productive. We need to have clarity of purpose, understanding about how we want the KC's enacted in our space, understanding about what quality T & L looks (and sounds) like and an understanding about how and why we might collaborate if we are to take advantage of a collaborative T & L space...



  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 19 Aug 2015 6:10am ()

    Hi Cheryl,

    Great to see what you are up to!

    Just re the 'Roaming teacher" I note a lot of schools around NZ are using this name, I hope it really does't mean roaming for roaming sake...

    Here is some thinking for you:

    If schools need a teacher to 'roam' to manage behaviour then they need to examine the culture they are creating, In a quality collaborative teaching and learning environment the students should be learning about how to self manage and self regulate (this will be taught explicitly and related to the KC's). This includes goal setting, self monitoring, reflection etc... In other words they should for the most part be able to self manage or be learning how to (not there just yet for some!) and both teachers can focus on teaching.

    Another option:

    One teach, one assist. One teacher is teaching a group (typically guided teaching) and the other teacher is a "Learning Coach". The role of the Learning Coach is to workshop with students, support children with "Just in time" learning, challenge children in their learning and support those who are struggling etc. The teachers in a collaborative space, or the school if you have more than one collaborative space, should come up with a job description for the Learning Coach.

    This is important for a number of reasons:

    It keeps teachers and students learning focussed

    It defines the job of the Learning Coach

    It communicates to parents and one another we are collaborating to enhance learning outcomes, to improve self regulation and to support hauora.

    Bottom line- Roaming is random!

    Must do's and Can do's

    I am also seeing evidence of "Must do's" and "Can do's" really just been low quality busy activities done with worksheets (and in some cases with no feedback for the student....) So,  making sure "Must do's" and "Can do's" are quality learning not just busy worksheets  will impact on the child's ability to self manage (I would be disruptive if I had to do busy activities).

    The question we should be asking ourselves all the time are:

    Is this quality teaching and learning?

    How do I know? (what evidence do we have that what we are doing is making a difference for learners?)

    Are we collaborating in ways that enhance our teaching and maximise our skills?

    Does our collaboration produce a benefit for learners? (Improved outcomes, self regulation, hauora)?


    Hope this helps


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