In order for learning to be meaningful and effective, there are certain things every learner needs. We’re talking about the tools of the heart and mind that drive engagement and foster inspiration. After all, learning isn’t a one-time thing that ends when school is done. Our goal as educators is to help our learners fall in love with the idea of being lifelong learners.
The things every learner needs to make this happen are both within them and around them. Though some we will provide in the learning environment, there are others they will discover for themselves. No matter what, if every learner develops and experiences these exciting gifts, a lifetime of active and meaningful learning is assured.
7 Key Things Every Learner Needs
Let’s explore the things we feel every learner must have to get the most benefit from learning, no matter where it happens. As you read these, think of how you can best cultivate them in your own learning environments.
Don’t worry, we aren’t going to get all philosophical on you here. What we will suggest, though, is that every learner should at least know their strengths and limitations. Give them room to show where their talents and aptitudes are, and any special interests they have. Also, consider where they struggle or what they need to work on. How can you help them address both in the most beneficial way possible?
As teachers, we can model so many different constructive behaviours and mindsets for our young learners. In addition, we must also reinforce why what we model for them is important.
3. Learning strategies
There are a thousand or more ways to learn something, and at some point you may see all of them in your classes. Our students are so diverse and unique, and a broad range of workable strategies for learning is something every learner needs. Ultimately these will either become their go-to methods or at least ones they’ll always have in their personal toolboxes.
Different learning strategies can include things like:
- Whole group discussions
- Turn-and-talk peer discussions with a partner
- Pauses to reflect on important talking points
- Combining words with visuals
- Peer mentoring
- Web quests
- Exit tickets or KWL Charts
4. Constructive and actionable feedback
On a list of things every learner needs every day, this may be the most crucial. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, feedback should enable and inspire learning to progress. Whenever possible, use it to make learners feel good about where they are followed by getting them excited about where they can go.
5. Creative outlets
Making time for exercising creativity is absolutely essential to our learners’ growth and progress. No matter what avenues they use to express it, we must offer them that freedom regularly. Students thrive when given the opportunity to challenge their creative abilities in safe environments with the necessary scaffolding. As a result, they take ownership of their learning and are motivated to find solutions, deriving personal satisfaction from the process.
6. A purpose for learning
One of the things every student needs from their learning is a sense of purpose and relevance. In fact, one of the most common questions they ask (and always have asked) is, “Why are we learning this?” What they’re asking is only for their learning to be useful to them, and to be something they can benefit from in life beyond school. It’s here we have the opportunity to provide context and relevance to lessons, thereby showing them they’re doing something beyond a simple compliance task.
7. Room for mistakes
Useful failure happens when we’re given the opportunity to see errors in a new light and learn from them. In the past, we may have either punished or been punished for mistakes. However, that’s no way to learn meaningfully and constructively. It’s actually a great way to end up with a fear of learning. At every juncture we must ensure learners get ample room to embrace mistakes and turn them into chances to learn and grow.
There are plenty of things every students needs to thrive and succeed, but these rank among the most important. The experiences they’ll have with strategies like these are ones they’ll carry for a lifetime. As with any meaningful learning we give them room for, they’ll benefit from the wisdom gained anywhere in life.