Boosting self-management and learning skills

Over the last month or so, I have been making an increased focus on developing skills within the students that allow them to take more control of, and be more aware of, their brain and learning. This is in response to the professional development day with John Josephs that we had at our school a while back as well as from reading the book ‘Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google?’ by Ian Gilbert (a book that I think every teacher and parent should read). I’d like to share some of the simple strategies that we’ve been focusing on:

  • Information Processing – In an attempt to have kids understand how their brain collects and stores information, we’ve taken a look at the Information Processing Model introduced by John Josephs. Basically, from the world of information, our brain chooses (or is forced to, or not to, by external influences) to move information through the following stages: sensory memory, immediate memory, working memory, long term memory. You can learn more by contacting
  • Learning spaces in the classroom – I recently rearranged the classroom to allow for a number of different learning spaces. We have spaces that include independent, quiet areas, group tables, reading areas, whole class areas, etc. I share with the students the idea of making a choice of seating based on the requirements of the task at hand. If you need to focus by yourself, find a spot to do that. If you need to work with a partner, find a spot to do that. The kids are choosing well – for the most part. Unfortunately old habits die hard and some kids try to claim a stake on ‘their’ seating position 🙂 We’re working to remove this habit.
  • Behavioural Self Management – we recently set up a STAR corner. This stands for Stop, Think, Act, Reflect. Similar to a time-out corner in that it allows for removal from a situation that’s getting out of hand. BUT, completely different in that the students mostly take themselves to the corner (rather than me ‘telling them off’ and sending them there), it emphasises a focus on thinking about what wasn’t working and how to change it, and it promotes meta-cognitive thought which allows students to improve themselves meaning that hopefully the incidents become less frequent over time. In times when the whole class is a little ‘distracted’ I simply ask them to close their eyes and, without speaking or touching anyone else, count to 10 in their heads, or spell their name, or say the alphabet. Then I ask them to open their eyes when calm, focused and ready to move forward. I’m now seeing kids using this at their desks too – it’s great!

I hope some of these simple techniques can help you in your classroom or home too.


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