The Role of Choice in Engaged, Independent Learning By Renee Houser

When we think about our own learning lives, and conditions that have made learning successful, one of those conditions that contributes to success is choice. When we are afforded the opportunity to make choices in our own learning lives, we feel valued and trusted, and capable of making our own decisions. When we are  the decision maker in our  learning lives, we build routines that lead to habits of independence.

Imagine a classroom full of students who are independent decision makers. Problem solvers. Thinkers! Let's think of ways in which we can increase student choice this month.  Daniel Pink in his book DRIVE, and in his TedTalk - the Puzzle of Intrinsic Motivation speaks to the notion of choice as autonomy. According to Pink, the three main elements of intrinsic motivation are autonomy, purpose, and mastery. When we are choosing our path - we often feel empowered. 

Our decisions are rooted in purpose, and we are engaged and more likely to embrace a “figuring it out" mindset that often leads to mastery - getting better at things over time! Here's a video of my colleague Kristi Mraz and I discussing the role of choice, will power, and engagement.

How can we increase opportunities for students to have choice throughout their day this month? When you increase choice, what do you notice about engagement? Voice? Community? Collaboration? What about YOUR choice as an educator? Take a look at your professional learning life - what are you choosing to prioritize? What will you choose to study so that your learning life brings you joy?