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5 tips for encouraging ownership in the classroom

Tom Brialey, Managing Director of Action Storage, looks at the importance of encouraging children to take ownership in the classroom

Posted by Lucinda Reid | March 28, 2017 | School life

Gone are the days of the classroom format being focused on a teacher standing in front of rows of desks. With student-centric lessons fast replacing traditional teaching styles, active and adaptive learning techniques are being used to personalise teaching styles to suit the individual needs of each pupil.

From ensuring that each class-member feels valued to offering the opportunity for students to enhance their skillsets, encouraging children to take ownership in the classroom will motivate pupils to make the most of their education. On top of this, creating a sense of responsibility will inspire students to reach their full potential and aspire for the career they’ve always dreamt of.

1. Assign classroom roles each term

Assigning responsibility in the classroom is a technique that will promote positive behaviour and ensure overall in-class efficiency in any age group. From the novelty of being the classroom register monitor in a primary school to the benefits that come with adding ‘peer-mentor’ to their CV, designating roles of responsibility will encourage an overall positive attitude from learners - and teach them the skills that they’ll need for managing and leading groups in the future.

2. Give students a choice over the curriculum

With a low pupil-teacher ratio and freedom to deviate away from the national curriculum, the ability to tailor each term’s syllabus to suit its students is one of the greatest benefits about an independent school. Offering a broader education than the prescribed teaching time of state schools, teachers can - and should - adapt the timetable to meet the educational needs of their pupils. Teaching is all about the learners, and giving students the power to choose aspects of the curriculum will encourage active class participation. So whether it’s a free choice in which book they review or the option to pick their own assessment title, a student-directed curriculum will create a sense of ownership over the learning, and encourage in-class engagement.

3. Encourage group work and choose project leaders

Compared to independent work, cooperative study has been shown to increase individual achievement in the classroom, meaning group work is essential in order for learners to flourish. The collaboration of a greater range of creative ideas means students can work together to analyse different options and develop the most effective solution together. As well as facilitating the opportunity for advancing learners’ communication and critical thinking skills, cooperative learning allows each team member to take on their own individual responsibilities for the project. Designating project leaders means students can learn what is required from taking a leading role, meaning children will feel encouraged to aspire to reach for senior positions later in life.

4. Focus feedback by asking students to self-assess

There’s only so much feedback that a child can absorb at any one time, and conveying a number of constructive comments without upsetting emotions can be a difficult task for teachers. Self-assessment strategies mean students identify where they think their own strengths and weaknesses lie, meaning teachers can locate potential areas to develop that learners are unaware of, as well as dedicating attention to anything that students have highlighted. With a rubric that allows pupils to grade themselves, a self-assessment allows students to take control of their learning and encourages both reflection and personal development - meaning the children of today will be the well-rounded leaders of tomorrow.

5. Listen to the student voice

While training courses and teaching-assessments will help you to shape your teaching style to suit the needs of students, gaining constructive feedback from current learners can be invaluable for developing your own teaching skills. Whether it’s criticism or praise, finding out where your teaching habits excel - and where there’s room to improve - means you can evolve the classroom environment for the better. Gaining feedback from students themselves will highlight how much you value their opinion - giving students a sense of responsibility within the classroom - and this mutual respect will emphasise that all-important idea that learning involves working together.

Inviting students to take responsibility for their day-to-day learning and environment will not only motivate positive classroom behaviour, but the lifelong lessons that stem from taking a share of in-class ownership will be invaluable for children when it comes to developing their skills in pursuit of a future career.

Action Storage supplies school lockers and equipment to all educational organisations, including independent schools, and provides solutions so they can store their items safely and securely. As Managing Director, Tom has worked with a variety of independent schools and understands their needs. For more information, visit their website   

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