March 14, 2012

Patience helps independent learners develop

Photo credit: Project 365 Challenge
As I've written on several occasions, a successful Results Only Learning Environment requires patience and perseverance. When students struggle early on with project-based learning and self-evaluation, I sometimes find myself wanting to return to worksheets and grades.

Of course, I don't give in to these urges. As I tell my students, we have to stay the course. It always pays dividends in the end.

I'm seeing these dividends now in a class that not more than a month ago, I was concerned might never adapt to results-only learning. Many students just didn't seem to be improving.

This week, though, it suddenly struck me that things were clicking. One girl, who has been a reluctant participant in our year-long reading project, was quietly devouring a book, unwilling to look up from her rapidly-turning pages. Another young lady, who had expressed dissatisfaction with the class earlier in the year, was eagerly bookmarking and annotating a web article she'd located, making a special effort to come to me and ask how the annotation looked. Two more students were sitting together quietly reading to one another from a novel I'd just distributed and asked them to read by the end of spring break.

I was amazed by the quality of production in the room. Patience with the results-only system had helped reluctant students develop into independent learners. It seemed like a long wait, but it was definitely worth it.