Teacher as a co-regulator – Don’t leave your students to learn alone
by Marika Koivuniemi (University of Oulu)
What does self-regulated learning mean in every-day schoolwork practice, is a topical question if we want to help students to become agents of their own learning. Some on-going discussions (and some teaching methods) presume that implementation of self-regulated learning in schools inherently requires students’ having a total independence and, consequently, full responsibility in terms of their learning. Claims against implementation of SRL in teaching stick to this assumption and argue that students are left without teaching and on-going support in their every-day learning activities.
Moreover, this criticism continues to argue that teachers’ role in these type of learning settings have changed into external observer who do not “teach” but only provides little help if requested. These type of public discussion arguments have raised up many concerns about the students’ rights, not to mention concerns on the quality of learning and skill development in schools. It seems relevant to ask if students, especially the youngest ones, are capable to set learning goals and plan their working independently, or if elementary school students really are capable of taking responsibility of their learning and of recognizing the need for help?
However, this is not what the implementation of SRL in school practices should mean. Instead, the whole idea is that our students would get teaching and support to become more independent agents of their own lives in the long run, capable in regulating different learning activities in the future. Based on the research, we know that this is not automatic and obvious for any learner, but luckily, something that we can learn, teach and support. We just need to understand the principles and practice them systematically.
Becoming an independent learner is a long journey, and we should see it as a goal for school years. Studies have shown how self-regulated learning skills develop throughout life, and it is not always an easy process for students. This is what sets clear premises for education. The students of all age need teachers’ support and teachers are required to provide it to them. Clearly not an external observer role there! Taking a co-regulator’s role, the kind who regulates students’ learning not for them but besides them, is a delicate and intensive job.
First, the teachers need to have meta-level understanding of what self-regulated learning really is and why it is important, and then they need to be able to apply and support the development of student's SRL skills in practice. Many teachers feel exhausted in the face of these requirements. The problem is that teachers experience that they do not have enough knowledge and tools to support the development of students self-regulated learning skills. SLIDEshow project addresses this worry by providing teachers information and good practices for implementing SRL in their classrooms. SLIDEshow targets also policymakers and teacher educators; similar to students, also teachers shouldn’t be left alone, but they need support in becoming co-regulators for their students SRL.
By now, we have already collected the existing SRL instruments and tools together for teachers to apply, and ran two teacher trainings for the teachers and teacher educators with a theme “self-regulated learning and how it can be supported in regular classroom contexts”. If you have missed them, don’t worry! Follow SLIDEshow and stay tuned for our next trainings!!!