5 Skills I use as an Independent Learner – and how these can be transferred to students

I’ve been thinking A LOT about independent learners, and this week, I’ve really been focusing on how I’ve seen independent learning benefit my personal life.  Whenever I try to really dissect a new skill that I want to teach, it’s helpful for me to connect it to myself and my own learning.

So I’ve been thinking about times in my recent past that being an independent learners has truly benefited me, and what skills I used to move past a hurdle. Here’s what I came up with…

So, as I started to think about each of these things, I really started dissecting what skills I had, which skills I had to learn, and my feelings during the process.

Here’s the skills I had:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Prioritizing
  3. Setting deadlines for myself
  4. Researching
  5. Asking questions

Here are the skills I learned:

LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE, and still learning!  Everyday!

So, if I transfer to that to creating independent learners with my students, I think those 5 skills listed above are really important skills to teach!

Let’s think about it:

  1. Problem Solving – when I think of my process for problem solving, I assess the situation first.  What do I know?  What do I need to know?  How do I learn it? If we really dig in, accomplishing a mission is really solving one problem at a time, so getting our students to stop and assess the situation is one step closer to moving them to independence.
  • Prioritizing – Sometimes we get overwhelmed.  It happens. Next to hitting problems, being overwhelmed is probably the next most powerful hinderance to our students’ success. They shut down. Being able to prioritize tasks, assignments, or even things to learn is another huge step to moving forward.   
  • Setting deadlines for myself – I think this is so powerful because it goes hand in hand with self-discipline, taking steps towards forward movement, and then feeling really good when we hit those deadlines.
  • Researching – my knowledge is VERY limited.  I mean…VERY. Brendon Burchard says that you don’t grow by staying with in your natural strengths.  You decide which directions you want to go, determine the skills you need to get there, and learn them! WOW!  What a novel idea! J  Knowing how to learn a new skill is fundamental to being an independent learner, and we can’t assume our students know how to do this.  Sure, most of them are more tech savvy then we are, but it doesn’t know they know how to learn skills that require more than a regurgitation of facts.
  • Asking questions – this one goes hand in hand with researching.  Being able to ask the right question means that you’ve gotten to the point in your learning where you’ve determined exactly what you need to know. Make your students ask specific questions.  If you hear, “I don’t get it, Miss.” Respond with a question. Keep responding with questions until they can ask you specifically what they need to know in order to be successful.

It’s interesting.  Although a lot of these novel tasks were very difficult, completely out of my wheel house or realm of knowledge, and even make me super uncomfortable, I never felt like I couldn’t do it.  I never thought about quitting. Procrastinating? Yes (hence the needed deadlines).  Frustration felt? Absolutely. Doubt creep in? Often.  But I always knew I would push through.  I think that is the bottom line feeling of an independent learner.  It doesn’t matter how smart or intelligent or knowledgeable you are…it’s only how competent, confident and determined you are to learn it. Let’s create some INDEPENDENT LEARNERS!

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