Self-Managing Students – Dream or Reality?

If we want responsible students, opportunities for them to take learn to take responsibility for their actions, whether related to academic learning or learning to get along with others, need to be part of what happens in schools.

If we want classrooms where children are self managing, where they take responsibility for their own choices, we need to find ways that they can firstly learn and then practise these behaviours.

Opportunities for the self evaluation lead students to self management. Working from choice motivation (internal control) rather than control motivation (external control), students learn to use Glasser’s connecting habit of negotiating differences. They can also use self-evaluation as a way of taking responsibility for their own learning.

These types of strategies are not just band aids; rather they are part of an overall philosophical approach where learners being self managing is the major goal in the school and classroom.

They work from an internal motivation perspective, giving students the responsibility to sort out disputes and evaluate their own learning for continuous improvement.

The Door

THE DOOR is a school- wide strategy for getting students to solve their own disputes. This strategy is a quick, simple process for promoting relationships, resilience, and for negotiating differences. A copy of the process is put on the door of every classroom, corridor and playground area. In this way students who have a disagreement can work through their problems independently.

At THE DOOR, students work through the following statements and questions. They are designed for non-coercive problem solving, so that everyone’s pictures about how they want their school to be are matched.

  • I want our school to be a happy place? What do you want school to be like for you?

  • I would like to talk about what happened in the playground today. What happened for you?

  • This is what happened for me?

  • Next time this happens I will …

  • What might you do next time?

  • Thank you

The Head of Junior School at one school had been doing duty on the playground when two young students came up to him. One complained that other had pushed him. The Head of Junior School said “Have you been to THE DOOR?” The two students went off to the script that was placed on the gate leading to the playground. The younger student could not remember the script nor could he read it yet. The older child who was the ‘pusher’ read the script while the young student repeated the questions and then waited for the answers. Taking responsibility is big in this school.

Setting Goals

… if you don’t know where you’re going you might end up somewhere else – Toby Keith

Setting clear goals enables learners to evaluate how close they are to achieving them. The more specific and measurable the goal, the more easily they can self evaluate.

Learners can ask themselves “How close am I to getting what I want?” “What do I now need to do to get closer to that goal?”

Mastery of self-control (self-management, self-regulation) as described in the Dunedin longitudinal study following a cohort of 1000 children born in 1973 predicted health, wealth and public safety of the population. By the age of ten students who had mastered self control were more likely to have success at many life tasks.

As teachers we can have an influence on students’ ability to self-manage. These strategies are examples of how to ensure that this happens.

As an Instructor with William Glasser International Bette continues to work with schools, counsellors and members of the general public who have the desire to learn more about how and why they behave the way they do and how they can add quality to our lives.

Moffitt, et al 2010, A gradient of childhood self control predicts health, wealth and public safety

Glasser, W, 1998 Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom

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 Change is but one choice away