The ONE Question to Start With When Creating Independent Learners
One of my new-found passions recently is student entrepreneurship. As a teacher and as a teacher/student mentor, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about this process and have the opportunity to help various students out along their path.
Right now I’m so happy to be mentoring a couple of student entrepreneurs in a couple different states. These are young women who have found pretty solid ideas and are ready to put sweat equity into their own success.
Often, I find that even the best intention educators don’t realize that they can be amazing mentors. But even with the best educators, sometimes our young charges will listen closer to a voice that comes from outside the classroom walls. So I am delighted to be that voice for these amazing educators.
My goal is to help our young entrepreneur minded kids realize that they have more power to make their dreams work then they might imagine. My number one goal and mentoring the students is to help them to become independent doers. In fact, that’s actually my goal with every single person that I work with, regardless of their age.
One of my first questions to my mentees is:
What do you want to do? What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish?
(Yes I fully realize those are three questions but really they’re the same question posed in different ways to meet the situation in front of me.)
Any time we’re working with students in a truly student-centered environment (or really any learner in a learning-centered environment) is to ask those questions, and THEN respond accordingly. Otherwise we’re not helping them. You’re simply inserting yourself into what you think they should be doing. You could be wrong.
And if the student can’t tell me what their goals are, I know that I have more background work to do with them. Often, I have found this is the case because they are still living with them mostly teacher driven environment and are just waiting to be told what to do. I refuse to do that. They must tell me their goals first.
Eventually, we want to help our learners remember that they could ask themselves those questions first — and then they don’t even need you! It’s a fun empowering moment watching kids realize that they can be their own first-line, go-to problem solvers.
You want independent learners? Start with them their goals. And then help them realize and remember, that with some basic learning skills, they don’t really need you.