Letting the learners take charge

In a traditional classroom you will usually find the teacher at the front of the class, explaining something on the board, while the students sit at their rows of desks, listening. Now just because this is the way subjects have been taught at schools for decades doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way and thankfully, teachers are starting to realise this.

In fact, allowing your learners to become more involved in the lesson will give them a sense of responsibility, agency and ultimately motivation. Obviously this works better with older learners than it does younger learners but it is definitely feasible even in a young teen classroom.

What exactly does letting the learner take charge mean?

Basically, instead of the teacher making the decisions regarding the lessons, the learners are given a chance to have a say. In other words, the teacher takes the lead from the learners and the learners become more active participants in the organisation and execution of the lesson.

This can range from deciding on activities to be done in a lesson, choosing what topics will be learnt, negotiating homework and organising themselves. The teacher effectively takes a step back from leading the class and gives the learners space to voice their opinion and make learning decisions. The teacher still has authority in the classroom but the learners will be more involved in the learning process. Consequently, they will take their learning more seriously since they have made the decisions.

However, this can apply to more than issue of classroom management. In terms of the learning process itself, the learners need to be given more leeway than traditionally allowed so as to be able to figure out language on their own. In other words, the teacher must step back from spoonfeeding the learners information and instead support them in coming to their own conclusions and engaging in problem solving.

Parents actually have a similar role to play with their children. When children need help with homework, rather than stepping in to do the homework for them, parents should guide their children to the correct answers or to the completion of the project. Giving them space to think and reflect on their own will do wonders for their self confidence and motivation.

Bear in mind that if your classroom has been based on the traditional model, it may take some time for your learners to appreciate the freedom and the autonomy they are being given. It will be not only the teacher that has gotten used to how things are, so it will take some time for everyone to fully participate in a new way of teaching and learning, but when that time comes everyone will benefit when the learners take charge.