Tips of the trade: 23. Independent learning

Roy Watson-Davis

Teaching is as much about letting pupils find out for themselves as it is about you telling them.Try to encourage pupils to find their own answers, and create a culture where they can learn independently of you. This will make your teaching less time-intensive and exhausting, as well as helping the pupils. Too many teachers overteach - let the pupils do the work, not you.

Start off by creating resource boxes for your room - one large box or smaller boxes for each group of desks. Into them put dictionaries, a thesaurus and a couple of books relevant to your subject (at least one should be humorous). Encourage the pupils to use these in lesson time. If appropriate, also create a resource tray of rough paper gluesharpeners and so on. Get the pupils into the habit of using these without asking.

With lesson content, give the pupils lines of enquiry to follow and let them suggest ways in which to put the work together. Discuss thinking skills with your classes as part of general teaching. Get the pupils to critically evaluate their own approaches to a task, and share marking schemes with them.

Use homework to develop these ideas - for example, if the curriculum content is too heavy for class time to be spared, ask pupils to evaluate for homework. Over time, you will find yourself teaching less and sharing a learning experience more.

Roy Watson-Davis is an advanced skills teacher in the London borough of Bexley.Have you any useful tips to pass on? We pay pound;50 for all tips published. Send yours to:

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Roy Watson-Davis

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