My planning… or should I say the kid’s planning?

This year, I have gradually been giving more and more responsibility and autonomy to the children in my class. We started off small – children were organised into groups who had responsibility for running a fitness session one day a week. From there, we have gradually built up such autonomy and ownership. Children plan their day; tell me when they want to be tested; instigate, organise, attend and run optional meetings; decide how the classroom is going to be arranged and where they will sit; make goals and work on these (mostly) independently; instigate giving and asking for feedback; along with solving problems and improving classroom practice with their ideas alongside me… to name a few examples!

This week, we took this further and the students planned the week with minimal input from me. I time-tabled a few unavoidable activities such as assembly and meetings with the whole syndicate; and the students added in a whole class vocabulary quiz to enhance their vocabularies. This was something they thought they all needed to work on. Then we added in group meetings and talked  about what these needed to be focussed on, as well as the kind of follow-up they thought would reinfoce their learning best. The children decided they wanted to get PROBE tested at some point in the week so we factored that in.  We then talked about any optional meetings that were focused on things that just a group of children wanted or needed to learn. Suggestions abounded but we selected 6 and filed away the remaining suggestions for future weeks. Following this, the class discussed useful tasks to help their learning, as well as optional tasks that were not necessary for everyone’s learning, but that some children wanted to complete. Our plan was complete!

This is the latest step in children taking more ownership and responsibility for their learning. It has taken lots of scaffolding and a gradual introduction of more  and more skills and expectations of the students. I’m really looking forward to seeing how next week pans out, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t as we are doing exactly what the students wanted and indicated they needed.


4 thoughts on “My planning… or should I say the kid’s planning?

  1. A very interesting post and it fits well with a fascinating discussion I had this week regarding NCEA with a group of secondary principals. One issue they raised was that they are starting to get pressure from students coming into secondary schools to continue the learning styles they are used to. This includes the use of devices such as ipads and the whole BYOD thing as well as the sort of independence you are discussing here.

    The other issue was around NCEA and the thought that students should be able to sit an exam when they were ready for it, not just at the end of the year, which fits perfectly with your plan of students saying when they are ready to be assessed.

    The last thought was that the style of NCEA assessment is based upon 19th century recording styles. How many students are now in the situation where they have been working in a digital world and suddenly have to write a 3 hour exam with a pen! Not a skill they have had to use, nor are they likely to ever use in the “real world”. It is only education that requires such a task. The rest of us would type, or Swype anything longer than a shopping list.

  2. It is interesting as a Year 8 teacher in a large intermediate school to read comments from secondary teachers. I wonder whether we shouldn’t make our assessment schedules more aligned somehow so the students transition to secondary school more adjusted to how they will be assessed through the style of NCEA.

    I have been reading this blog with great interest and have a self-directed learning style in my classroom this year. This has been fantastic and I have seen excellent improvements in writing particularly with fantastic gains against AsTTle norms.

    What I am wondering is how to make this work well in mathematics? I find my students “don’t know what they don’t know” so revert back to a more structured teaching style in this area. I would really like to make it work in maths.

    Has anyone got any ideas?


  3. Hi Emma. My name is Ian Hayes. I have worked at Discovery 1 School for the last 11 years. We are a special character school where our total focus has always been to create self directing, motivated and responsible learners. Check out our website at if your interested in what we do as a whole school.

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