Reflections on a Course: Post 6 (Week 7): On Learners’ Autonomy

When we reflect on our job, we always do it putting all the weight on the teachers’ side: What we must do to motivate students, how we must organise our lessons in order to get the best of them, how to teach certain skills, how to use ICT… but we usually neglect the learners’ side.

We must be really aware of our own process as teachers, of course: We must prepare ourselves to become better teachers in order to help our students, and we must learn new approaches and tools that will make our performance more efficient.

But we must also look carefully at the students’ side. Students have their learning process, which goes forth as it gathers knowledge and method on the way. Learners improve their learning skills as they grow. We teachers help them look at their weaknesses and strengths, at their needs. We help them analyse their goals as learners: What they want or need to achieve, and what they need to reach those goals…

Do we really guide them in their own learning process? As mentioned above, we do help them as we go hand in hand, and we show them the tools they need… but most of the times, we solve their problems, we make them practise… but what is also extremely relevant is to teach them how to walk the path of their learning process on their own. They need a sherpa to climb that hill, but when they are on their own, they also need a pair of good
hiking boots.

We must teach them to see those weaknesses by themselves, and to find solutions by themselves… what is that? They should be able to find their own way in order to improve their skills… writing, reading, listening, speaking… and how? Students must learn how to access resources where drills and activities can be used in their learning. They must find those resources which also help them see whether they are achieving the stated goals of the practice successfully or not… accessible rubrics for different tools, activities and students’ autonomous production would definitely prove really helpful when it comes to seeing how you are progressing on your own.

Tough job, challenging goal, but really rewarding… teaching students to lead their own learning path… alone again, naturally.

photo credit: Steve-h via photopin cc

3 thoughts on “Reflections on a Course: Post 6 (Week 7): On Learners’ Autonomy

  1. Luísa Lima

    Completely tuned, Ricard!
    It’s important to always have our students in mind so that we design the best activities for them and choose the most suitable methods or strategies to work with them. And it’s important to give them some freedom to learn. Not everyone is the same and not all students need the same amount of support, but they will all eventually earn their freedom. I also hope my project will contribute a little bit for that change of attitude.

  2. Yuliya

    For Ricard
    Hi, Ricard!
    You are right. Often do we ignore the side of the students putting too much emphasis on our own activities. I rarely start planning thinking on how to organize the process in such a way that students learn to be autonomous. Thank you for high lightening the point. If I make some steps towards developing learner autonomy it doesn’t happen purposefully ( I described it on Nicenet)
    Many teachers including me take into consideration their own role, “I will put the students into pairs, I will do this and that……” “I” comes first. You know there is a joke in Russian that suits the context. I is “Ya” in Russian and it is also the very last letter in the alphabet. When somebody uses it too much “ya”, “ya”, “ya” people say “ya” is the last letter of the alphabet thus, they emphasize its role.
    I will try to start with “the students” will be motivated if they …………. not I will motivate the students.


  3. Marina

    Hi Ricard,

    I liked the metaphor from the hiking. “Good hiking boots” yes, sure! But how can teachers make students want to climb that high? Because there is a lot of effort to academic learning and a lot of joy and satisfaction, similar to the feeling of a climber reaching the top of a cliff. I know that feeling both literally and figuratively, and I happened to have friends who feared to follow. This is the threshold. Once a student steps in, then he starts asking for the right tools to the top, don’t you think?


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