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Learning Licences, do they really work?

Started by Neill O'Reilly 13 Jul 2016 8:50am () Replies (22)

I have had four teenage children all got their restricted and learners licences. All struggled with the restricted licence, the human (and teenager) need for socialisation and the power and influence of 'peers' may have meant, on occasion they had a passenger in the car and were out after 10:00pm (those who have had teenagers will get this) The bottom line is the current licence system we have in NZ simply does not work and in fact teaches our young adults to break the law from an early age in their cars. The licence system is supposed to scaffold our young adults to independence and self regulated behaviours...had a ticket lately...?

It is interesting to see the range of approaches teachers are using to enable self regulation in children and the prominence placed on "Licence" systems be it using SOLO, bands, necklaces, beads....

I am interested as to why we do this? Some of my concerns:

  • Are we creating a system for all students when in reality only a small number need more scaffolded support, and if they do why don't we just give them the support?
  • Doesn't this just confirm those who are already naturally self regulating as just that?
  • Doesn't my ability to self manage have a lot to do with motivation and engagement, and if so won't my self management and regulation improve as I am engaged in things that motivate challenge and inspire me (boys, building!)
  • Is this another form of 'control' rather than empowerment
  • How sustainable is it all?

I suppose my big question is "WHY?" are teachers and schools really thinking through the "Why?" factor with this or simply seeing what other schools are doing and then 'putting a system in place' 

Does it work or do you just have them for a season and then drop them and focus on those who need support and have an expectation and culture co-constructed about how, where and with whom we learn?

Would love to hear your thinking!



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 07 Apr 2017 12:38pm ()

    Thanks so much for sharing this Yubin. Your learning license system sounds really exciting and I'm glad it's working well for you all. Sounds like something worth capturing in video/images toosmiley. Thanks again.

  • Yubin (View all users posts) 01 Apr 2017 6:10pm ()

    Hi all,

    A bit delayed here, but licensing something we have had to consider only now.

    Our hub is made up of 60 year 7 and 8 students and 2 teachers, with only about 15 with previous experience working in a modern learning environment (ILE, open plan, however you would like to call it). From the beginning, we really supported and built up students being self-managers as we hold workshops, or students work in tribes so requires a lot of independence.

    It was going well, until about week 7 and we needed to re-think how we could run our class so we can keep a closer eye on certain students. Due to the nature of our class, there are 'hidden spots', and also space of outside. Although we really did not want to 'label' any students, we decided to apply the licensing system (Learners, Restricted, Full) that related to the space students could work on, and choosing which literacy task they would do on the day. The teachers who originally taught in the classroom space we are using now actually used licensing system, which is why we thought we would try after talking with them.

    At the moment, it definitely feels like we have more 'control' and assist students who are not there YET (growth mindset). I feel like at times it is beneficial for not just us, but also students as they are getting the support they actually need (but may not necessarily want). Students who are on their restricted already are able to get on with their work too. It seems to be a great differentiation programme.

    We're not sure if this is something that will be on-going, but for now it is making our hub a lot more effective. We are constantly reminding students of the importance of developing self-management and time-management skills, and we are also talking about growth mindset as it is something we looked into deeply.

    Let me know if you are also in our shoes - and whether it was effective for you (especially long term).

    - Yubin

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 13 Feb 2017 5:46pm ()

    Hi Gretchen,

    Goals set and then no plan have some value, goals set with a plan (such as a SMART Goal) have even more value especially if children are given time to reflect.

    Less is more, we set our goals against our REAL Hero profile which is linked to the KC's.

    In the studio they might also have a writing goal that is very clear to them and a goal for their other learning areas. We are currently working through some PLD on Self regulated learning and goal setting and want to strike a happy medium so the goals are purposeful and not to onerous. Give me a few months and I will share where we are up to!

  • Geoff Siave (View all users posts) 13 Feb 2017 11:38am ()

    Thanks for sharing, that Kathe.  And Neill and Gretchen, I've really enjoyed this thread since it resurfaced last week.  I see strong alignment between the most core parts of deep learning, the NZC and what you are working on in your rooms and schools. 

  • Kathe Tawhiwhirangi (View all users posts) 13 Feb 2017 10:20am ()

    Kia ora kotou katoa

    Just weighing in on this discussion and sharing a story...

    The day I invited my year 7 and 8 students to tell me what they believed a high performing listener, speaker and self manager looked like, was the day they co-constructed their own guides/rubrics/check ins. They created in 4 steps the traits/dispositions of a high performer in each of these areas, a low performer, and 2 graduated steps in between.

    They took responsibility for where they sat along the 'map' and on the odd occasion, I might have asked..."Ana, where are you sitting on the self managing map?"  She would check in with the traits and 99% of the time refigure herself without me needing to say any more than that. The fact that they had crafted this (the students) meant a deep connection and ownership of their learning. MAGIC!


  • Gretchen Cocks (View all users posts) 12 Feb 2017 3:14pm ()

    Hi Neil,

    Thanks a lot for these. It's affirming to know I am doing lots of these already!

    Last year, I was focusing on collaborative learning between my students and working on the design of the task to ensure it mean students were actually working together, not just alongside each other. For this to be successful, we had to look at the problems that were occurring. We then came up with goals around 6 or so aspects of collaboration. We came up with strategies and also language that the learners could use in different situations. It was really effective. Do you have any other ideas/scaffolds/resources for goal setting that you wouldn't mind sending? I don't want to go overboard with goals for this, that and the next thing!



  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 12 Feb 2017 12:03pm ()

    Hi Gretchen,

    Some of the most important components to developing self regulated learners are:

    • Meaningful and authentic goal setting with students selecting their goals (this can happen from new entrant) and having success criteria so they can self assess and daily reflection time.
    • Quality feedback related to agreed goals and success criteria- this empowers the learner and develops a growth mindset.
    • Giving children think time after every question is asked (minimum 7 seconds) and then learning talk partners rather than hands up and answering the teacher (I think I have written before about hands up being a 'thinking stopper' and indicative of a teacher controlled rather than student led environment)
    • Scaffold the choices. As a minimum let children select where they learn (this will have been scaffolded through a group agreement about what we are at school to do- learn and what learning looks, sounds and feels like, so that if children are not yet able to do this teacher can support that child by making a decision for them rather than penalising the whole class just because a few struggle with this self regulation strategy
    • Have 'How we get ready fro the day' visual prompts
    • Teacher modelling goal setting and asking for student feedback
    • Making feedback about self regulation and self management as constructive as feedback about learning goals- that is not 'telling off' but constructive, specific feedback
    • Visual prompts about what to do when you are in the learning pit (and celebrate being in the learning pit because tat means you are taking risks and challenging yourself
    • Refection strategies and explicitly teaching children how to reflect- teaching them,  pausing, posing questions, paraphrasing, providing quality information, paying attention to self and others (active listening) 
    • Ask them if they want their art put up on the wall- I still can't believe in 2017 in supposedly student centred learning environment that teachers have children do art (which requires risk taking, mistake making and vulnerability) and then it is all place on the wall often with no indication of a before and after and without a success criteria and without permission! (99% will say yes but lets ask)
    • Have children share they progress with others (celebration)
    • Have children gather information about how self regulated and student centred our environment is- once you have some criteria get them to interview a random sample of students , anaylse the data and then report back to teachers

    these is a few for starters...


  • Gretchen Cocks (View all users posts) 08 Feb 2017 7:56pm ()

    Hi Neil

    This is a question for you. We have a breakout space and I've been mulling over the idea of learner licences for a while. Am really glad to have stumbled upon this thread. I think it's so important, the 'why'. It's unbelievable in education what people are jumping into without little thought. What would you suggest are some really good ways to develop self-regulation/management?


  • alyson (View all users posts) 29 Sep 2016 4:23pm ()

    Thanks for this discussion, 

    We have been contemplating some sort of learner license system for next year and this thread has given me food for thought. We have not had any sort of rebuild/refurb as yet and have 55 learners in 3 rooms, Y0-6, with 3 teachers. One room is a completely separate building. One thought we have is for the "independent/trustworthy" learners to work in this space while the other learners work in the more "shared" space with the 3 teachers collaboratively working together taking guided/supported learning groups? 

    I have been introducing passion projects, genius hour and STEM challenges with my Y5/6s this year and the engagement factor is immense! Learners are so passionate learning about what they have chosen and presenting their learning "on the big screen" that behaviour issues simply don't exist. They beg to work on their passion projects and beg to present! There are, however, still "a couple" of students who despite this are still pushing the boundaries and cannot work unsupervised (especially not with chromebooks) for any length of time :(  

    I would love to hear your thoughts Neil.

    PS A group of us came to your last workshop and LOVED it...many thanks :) 

    Alyson (DP Akaroa Area School)

  • Neill O'Reilly (View all users posts) 31 Jul 2016 2:40pm ()

    Thanks Wendy,

    Sounds like friggen great stuff you are doing!


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