It is a human right for every child to have their education personalised (UNESCO). From this flows a set of values and ambitions.
- We are all different and therefore we need to allow them to personalise their learning experience and let them follow their passions and find their bespoke way through their learning journey.
- We want all our children to have the best outcomes and need to challenge them to have high expectations and set clear goals, so they achieve more than they thought possible.
- We have to find ways to break down learning, so it is visible to young people, giving them a chance to contribute and demonstrate their mastery in a range of ways.
- We need to enable young people to be self-regulated so they can shape their world rather than be shaped by it.
- We are committed to designing and facilitating change which addresses equity and helps create a more just and fair system for young people.
- We want to enable young people to be thinking responsible global citizens ensuring their learning is deep and relevant, broad, and balanced, and human-centred, helping them experience different cultures, and engage with other learners around the world.
To achieve these goals, we need to be clear about what we mean by personalisation and self-regulation.
Personalisation is often confused with differentiation and individualisation.
Differentiation is how a teacher builds their lessons to make learning accessible to each learner. The reality is that you can never differentiate enough for every learner, and it often leads to the acceptance that some learners will not achieve all the learning goals (all will, most should, some might). Individualisation is the extreme of this and is only likely to be achievable by teachers with a very small cohort. Both these terms mean it is the teacher that is controlling and developing the programme of learning.
For us, personalisation means making learning visible so students can engage directly in the process, and giving them some agency over the time, place, and process of learning. However, we also share Yong Zhao’s challenge that learning should be personable. In other words, we need to give young people an opportunity to design the ‘what’ of learning and have space to follow their own passions and develop new ideas and learning paradigms. We can summarise the elements for self-regulation as shown below.
There has been much dialogue about knowledge rich curricula. We stand firmly in the position that young people need to ‘know stuff’, but moreover need to understand and be able to apply it. Our access to knowledge has never been so vast with the increase in technology and especially artificial intelligence. However, confident learners can draw on their long-term memory to bring ideas to new learning. Children have to be able to relate new learning to what they know. So, for us it is essential that teachers have a large and rich repertoire of effective teaching practices. We know that a school cannot be any better than the quality of its teachers and for this we should read ‘and the deep learning they facilitate.’ This is the first fundamental quadrant for a self-regulated learner.
For students to take ownership of their learning they will need the following four, from their teachers:
- Teachers need to help their students secure fundamental knowledge within a subject.
- Teachers need to be transparent about the learning objectives and the assessment process.
- Teachers need to help their students become aware of the different Self-Regulated Learning Skills and help them develop these skills.
- Schools create space for independent learning.
Secondly, young people need to have transparency over their learning. They need to know the scope and sequence of sessions and the goals (can do objectives). How can they extend their learning if they do not have clear sight of the learning journey? Moreover, how will they know if they are being successful in developing deep understandings without clear rubrics for success? Self-regulation means you are clear how you can improve your work, and this throws up the importance of clarity of formative and summative assessment. Assessment should be a part of the learning process that can inform the next steps for students and teachers.
Thirdly, students need space to make independent choices. This can be within the design of the learning, or by creating sessions where students are free to work on mastery, collaborations, or personal challenge. Sessions where the teacher becomes the facilitator of learning and will use the opportunity to provide personal support, challenge, or even micro teaching groups.
Finally, developing self-regulation takes time and practice and there needs to be a conscious effort to develop metacognitive skills. We believe that coaching conversations are an extremely effective way to encourage young people to think about their thinking and find a range of strategies. Metacognitive improvement requires you to be self-reflective and then develop tools that can be used again in the future.
The Education Endowment Fund identifies three core elements for a self-regulated student. This starts with motivation. Finding ways to make learning relevant to students and their future goals is a really important step. That is why in Global Spirit Ed we have encouraged a dramaturgy for learning that always begins with a motivational hook and clarity of purpose. Daniel Pink identifies three critical elements to building motivation – a sense of purpose (why) , mastery (I want to be the best I can be at this) and autonomy.
EEFs second element for self-regulation is cognition – I have to know how to do this. Finally, comes metacognition. Knowing how to solves simultaneous equations is cognition. However, faced with a challenging question or application, what strategies might the student use to solve this. That’s metacognition and it might require personal skills such as resilience, collaboration and even creativity.