“Without ownership, the kids’ life in school is all a blank whiteboard.”
-Buhrow & Garcia, 2006, Ladybugs, Tornadoes, and Swirling Galaxies
As a recent graduate from Georgia State’s Collaborative Master’s Program, with a Master’s in Education, I would like to share a few snippets from my thesis. For my Capstone, the final requirement for graduation, there were two components: 1) a nontraditional project (I chose making a scrapbook) on one topic of interest (I chose “How to Create A Favorable Learning Environment”) and 2) a written component/modified thesis (I chose Student Ownership).
“Student ownership means students taking more responsibility for their work, becoming more self-reliant instead of relying on teacher support which, in turn, helps to build self-confidence. They feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for being in charge of their learning and persisting through challenges. ‘If children are not making errors, they are not putting themselves in learning situations’ (Johnston, 2004, p. 39).”
“Student ownership comes from teachers demonstrating respect of the students, by giving them more opportunities for self-growth and independence.”
“As my students think through their actions they are developing a sense of agency. Peter H. Johnston explains it well when he writes, ‘If nothing else, children should leave school with a sense that if they act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals. I call this feeling a sense of agency,’ (2004, p. 29). Many teachers become successful at helping students build their sense of agency and feel ownership over their work and actions.”
“For me, student ownership represents responsibility, self-confidence, and independence. Teachers need to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their academic competencies, which in turn, supports student ownership. When students are able to find their own way of solving a problem they are able to develop more ownership of their work, leading to feeling more responsibility, self-confidence and independence. As Andrews and Trafton state, ‘I have come to think that time spent in thought is never wasted’ (2002, p. 90). We, as teachers, need to support and encourage students’ curiosity and thoughts. The more we step back and relinquish control over the classroom the more successful our students will be.”
This idea does not solely apply to the classroom – parents, family members, and family friends can also support personal ownership and autonomy for their child outside of school. I encourage you to offer more opportunities for completing independent tasks (whether it’s tying their shoes, brushing and flossing their teeth, dressing themselves, etc.). Your child will feel proud of those small, but significant, accomplishments and develop more and more independence. We all want our children to be successful and one way to do that is to give them the time to do things on their own (even though I know it can be difficult if you are in a hurry and trying to get out the door in the mornings). You’ll appreciate it in the long run!