• "Let It Go"

  • kaley jones

    Caley Jones, District Instructional Specialist

    As a district coach, I have seen the triumphs and trials of implementing the ideas of student ownership. I have heard the phrases: “My students can’t” and “I do not have enough time to make the materials.” To this, it is important to remember; it’s not about you; it’s about what is best for our student’s learning. 

    As a teacher, I heard the song from Frozen more times than I can count until I finally realized that when you genuinely implement a student-centered learning environment, you must just “Let it Go.” Now when I say this, I do not mean you give the keys to your classroom entirely over to your students - let’s be honest, that would be mass chaos. As a class, you need to develop a classroom community composed of independent and collaborative learners. As the teacher, your students will need help defining what an independent and collaborative learner looks, sounds, and feels like in their classroom. Instead of being told what to do, students need to identify a goal related to the standard and the strategies required to ensure they succeed individually and collaboratively. The students need to own these academic behaviors and habits, as they must measure and monitor themselves as learners. Once you have these established, you are ready for the next step towards having a student-learning classroom where students can articulate what they are learning.

    According to John Hattie, “The aim is to get the students actively involved in seeking this evidence: their role is not simply to do tasks as decided by teachers, but to manage and understand their learning gains actively.” This quote speaks to me because, as a teacher and now as a district instructional specialist, I know students love talking about and demonstrating their learning to adults. For teachers, these conversations can provide the best instructional feedback regarding how much students have engaged with the standard.  As a coach, it allows me to see if the students can articulate what it means to show mastery of a particular standard they are learning in the classroom.  

    To promote ownership of learning,  students need to understand the what, why, and how of their learning. As the students become familiar with the process and take more ownership of their knowledge, teachers must allow them to take that ownership. This is what I mean by “Let it Go.” Allow students to work independently or collaboratively on a particular task related to the standard you are currently working on. You provide them with the necessary tools (“just right work”) and feedback. The students are no longer saying “I can’t,” they are saying “I can” and “I will” master the standard!   Grit, perseverance, pride, growth mindset, and drive are all rolled up in a now intrinsically motivated student. Please, tell me you got goosebumps reading that!!!! It is an amazing sight to see.