Student development key to SDL

Alice Clement has been a teacher at Woodthorpe’s Eastern Campus since 2013 and is a strong believer in the concepts of self-directed learning (SDL) as taught by OneSchool.

Alice champions the teaching method as it gives students the ability to take certain skills learned in school and apply them once they leave. “I believe that the ability to be a self-directed leaner is an essential factor to student development,” says Alice. “Not only will our students require the abilities to monitor, prioritise and manage their own learning as they school, but these skills will also better equip our students to be successful when meeting the challenges of the workplace and adult life.” 

Alice also has a simple solution for how students use the concept of SDL to best suit their needs.

“The biggest tip I could give students is to break all tasks into smaller achievable steps and start with one,” she says, “even if it is as simple as writing the title or answering the easiest questions. Once you start to complete the small steps, it quickly turns into completed tasks.”

And make no mistake, the purpose of SDL is for the students to help themselves learn and achieve independently as possible. “In my experience students who are able to identify what they want to achieve and the steps that they need to take to get there find it easier to be self-motivated and complete tasks independently,” says Alice. “Taking the time to reflect on their progress also helps students to identify what works well for them and can give inspiration for the next targets to aim for.”

Another consideration is that teachers have to watch out for students that might get too despondent if they are having difficulty understanding the concepts of SDL. Like any new way of doing things, it isn’t always going to be easy. However, help is never far away. An important component of this is providing students with strategies that acknowledge everyone will at times struggle and empowering students to seek help from their peers, teachers and other facilitators when required,” says Alice.

Alice also believes technology is a key component within this type of learning strategy, but offers caution that there are pitfalls, too. “Technology has also provided new pathways for procrastination and distraction from the tasks at hand,” says Alice. “It is therefore essential that we teach students from a young age strategies to responsibly use new technology so that it helps, not hinders.”

Overall, Alice likes the concept and can see the bigger picture once a student immerses themselves in the concept. “I believe strongly that self-directed learning is not something that students are naturally equipped with but rather SDL is a culture that occurs when there is a pairing of a curiosity and desire to know more with explicit skills including organization, prioritizing, goal setting and reflection,” she says. “It is these skills which we can, as teachers, expose and teach students in order to prepare them for learning not only at school but throughout their lives.”