Metacognition is the key to independent learning. Students who know themselves are able to see ways to leverage strengths and circumvent areas of weakness in order to get the job done.
But how do we promote self-understanding in our students?
Metacognition, or thinking about one’s own thinking, has three components:
- Understanding strengths and challenges: Students need to develop a detailed sense of their true strengths and challenges.
- Engaging in reflection: By reflecting on their performance, students can gain a deeper understanding of how they think and learn best.
- Regulating behavior: Students should be taught to make decisions based on their self-understanding.
Without support, students may not have a realistic sense of their true strengths and challenges. They may see themselves as “good at everything.” Such global thoughts will not help them tailor their effort. These students likely hold fixed mindsets, so, when the going gets rough, they may fall apart and view the situation as hopeless.
When we provide students with opportunities to reflect on their performance, they are more likely to do so on their own. Look for opportunities to integrate metacognition into daily activities.
- When building community and setting classroom norms at the start of the year, use surveys to help your students identify their strengths and challenges and have them share this with the class.
- After a test or a report card, use strategy reflection sheets or error analysis to help students evaluate their performance.
- When assigning a paper or group project, ask students to think about what aspects of the task align with areas of strength vs. weakness. Then have them brainstorm how to leverage this knowledge.
Metacognition is the secret ingredient to empowering your students to face challenges independently!
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director