When children lead learning

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What happens when children lead their own learning?

The Year 5 girls participating in the Girl Guardians mentoring programme are undertaking an Appreciative Inquiry. The Inquiry process allows the girls to pose complex questions, reflect on their current knowledge, consider different perspectives and dream big. It allows them to follow their own curiosity, think diversely and create change they believe is important. This dynamic learning and teaching process allows them to have a voice and move flexibly from whole group to small group structures, depending on the section of the Inquiry process and their unique interests. Their voice is valued, nurtured and developed throughout each session.

The role of the mentors during this programme is to coach the girls, supporting them through the process of self-directed learning as well as enhancing student well being. The mentors listen actively and provide constructive feedback throughout each session. They provide mindful attention and ask open-ended questions that encourage the girls to self-reflect and build on their ideas referring back to their initial goal.

As the Inquiry develops, the girls have been identifying the interrelationships between their ideas and their big picture goal using hexagonal thinking. They are utilising the design process, which scaffolds their dreams about what could be possible. They consider the how, the why and re-identify with the purpose of their design ideas aligning them with their core values and the values of the School. The integration of the Inquiry process with the design process, led by the girls’ curiosity empowers their voice and draws on their character strengths. The process also provides the girls with the opportunity to develop their self-regulation and build courage and perseverance when divergent thinking becomes complex.

Through empowerment comes increased motivation, confidence and self-concept. Their voice is important, their ideas are valued, their dreams significant. The engagement and energy makes the room buzz with excitement; rich conversations and shared achievements celebrated as each step builds. The mentors and I have been overwhelmed with the development the girls have made cognitively, socially and emotionally through the first part of this programme and can’t wait to see where they might flourish next.