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7 Reasons to Empower Students to Self-Assess

Giving up control is challenging, especially for teachers. We often feel like we must have our hands in everything or else students won't learn...

or not learn the way we want them to.

What I've learned, that I'd like to share is, relinquishing control and empowering students enables them to grow as people and learners in ways predetermined, controlled, teacher-centered classrooms won't allow.

While we change the way we teach, to promote student growth, we must also provide ample opportunities for students to reflect on their learning and provide us with feedback about the depth of their development and understanding.

Too often what we see isn't the whole story, therefore the discussion of learning between teachers and students broadens the conversation about mastery in a profound way.

Teaching kids to self-assess promotes ownership of what kids know and can do and gives a wealth of information to the educator to further adjust learning in the space for the individual needs of each child.

Here are some compelling reasons to empower students to self-assess:

  • There is greater transparency in why students are learning what they are and how it transfers between classrooms and life.

  • Students become able to articulate their learning. What they know and can do can be discussed in terms of standards and skills and applied to their work as evidence of their learning.

  • This deeper knowledge of themselves increases their own ability to self-advocate and seek help as needed as well as provides opportunities for us to offer help when students express a need but won't ask for it.

  • Ownership and authentic contributions to growth increase motivation to learn and promote a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset which will lead to continued learning in life.

  • Students start to see learning as a spectrum instead of black and white and they can establish levels of growth inside themselves which will help them transfer knowledge and skills in the future.

  • Listening to students helps teachers better tailor classroom learning so that all students are getting what they need for more of the time.

  • Adding student voice into the conversation about mastery, also allows students to be a part of what most teachers have traditionally done alone, using only one kind of data to inform the overall decisions. Too often, teachers inadvertently label kids in a way that stays with them for life. "I'm a bad math student or I don't like to write because I'm bad at it."

As teachers we have an obligation to give students skills that transcend our four walls, making them ready for life after compulsory school. If we control everything, students will be unprepared for the independence expected of them in the future.

What's your biggest fear in allowing students to self-assess? What's holding you back from trying? Please share

This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in June 2015

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