Self Directed Learning is when the student takes ownership over how they learn.

The students are guided towards what they are expected to know, but the students get to choose how they find the knowledge. They choose how they learn best and how they show their work. The teacher becomes a resource rather than a manager, and holds them accountable for those choices. The choice is never not to work, the choice is how the student wants to work.

The result is a less stressful environment for students and teachers. The students have a variety of ways to show their work and engage further into their studies. Each student is aware of the class schedule and understands exactly what they must accomplish before the class even begins.

Discover more about Self Directed Learning by exploring the tabs below:

Choice, Pace & Levels of Complexity
Community of Learners
Teaching Styles

Choice, Pace & Levels of Complexity

Choice represents the student choosing how to learn. The choice is never not to work; the choice is how to get the work done. Students choose which Teaching Style to use and then how to complete the objectives. One student may choose to create a game, another student may make a power point presentation, while still another may choose to create a graph with documentation. How they do their work is up to them, but they must meet their own benchmark in neatness, depth and understanding.

Pacing is the speed at which the student is working. Students work at different paces: what takes one student 10 minutes to complete may take another student 30 minutes. Holding back the student that does it faster is not fair but, neither is rushing the student that needs the extra time. Through the objectives students accomplish as many objectives as they can before the class-time is over. The days objectives are to be completed on that day however, if you finish those before class ends, you continue on with the next day’s work and so on. This will lead to earned time. The timeline is set to the Command students by the timelines set out by Alberta Learning.

Levels of complexity is the degree of difficulty of the student’s work. Some students want to know everything they can about a specific subject while others are content to know just the basics. Objectives and Teaching Styles allow students to take concepts as deep as they wish while still covering the required information. A pupil gifted in one area is no longer held back until others catch up. If challenged in a subject area, your child is not rushed nor denied the opportunity to form the skills necessary for future success.

Community of Learners

The Community of Learners is an essential part of the Self Directed Learning method. It is created by arranging students’ desks into a circular formation rather than in rows and columns like at traditional schools. Each student is given an equal position within the community and a sense of respect is instilled from the beginning. Within the Community of Learners everyone has expectations they use to enhance the learning experience. Even the teacher’s desk is part of the community.

In the middle of the community is an open space where students can gather to meet with one another, plan, and do their work. Around the outside of the community are the tools students need to aid their learning; displays of student’s work, books, art materials, manipulatives, games, and other supplies. The students love the space in the middle, and the teacher can use it when a whole-class lesson is necessary. All of these aid in the students’ path to discovery.

The circular formation enables the students to see all of their classmates. It is not possible to hide at the back of the class or be lost in the middle. It is important for children to learn how to effectively communicate with one another, and looking at each other when engaged in conversation is without a doubt one of the most important tools of communication. The teacher can blend in with the community, so that the students learn the valuable lessons of social interaction without having to be obviously policed. Additionally, the teacher can always slip in to mediate or facilitate if necessary.

The Community of Learners is useful for preparing the students to enter into the real world. All of these essential social skills are reinforced every day in the Community of Learners; students learn to make eye contact, wait for others to finish talking, and ask and answer all sorts of questions on the spot.

Within the Community of Learners we also find the “Author of the Day” program along with Informal and Formal Time.

During Informal Time, students compose writings of their own choice. When a student feels ready to share, he or she stands up and says “I would like to share, please.” Other students may listen or continue writing, but all verbal communication must stop. Following the reading, the sharer asks for comments or questions. Everyone’s voice is valued. Here is where the students begin to think of writing as a tool for; reaching new skills, achieving new understandings and taking control of information. Pieces of writing are chosen by the student for editing, publishing and Author of the Day submissions.

During Formal Time the Author of the Day’s writing is distributed to his/her classmates. The Author of the Day then reads his/her work, while the students listen and image their favorite part. The Author is always available to answer questions or comments. Students then share their imaging and complete the Language Arts objectives for the day.

As the students become aware of how they learn best and set about discovering the world around them, this Community of Learners provides them an audience with which to share their wonders and discuss ideas, truly instilling in them a love of learning.

Teaching Styles

Teaching Styles are part of a system where the student tells the teacher what they need from the teacher to have successes in learning. Each Teaching Style has its own set of guidelines for both the teacher and student to work most effectively. The five Teaching Styles are:


  • Student listens to the lesson.
  • They do the lesson exactly as they are told.
  • The assigned work has to be completed in class.
  • Students are allowed to leave the command area if they have permission


  • Similar to Command.
  • Student is given more choice in how they complete their objectives.
  • They must finish their work at the same time or ahead of the command group.

Peer Partner

  • Student chooses a partner that they can work well with.
  • They listen to the lesson if necessary.
  • They must finish their work at the same time or ahead of the command group.
  • Each student must provide an individual product.
  • The student must make good choices.

Student Teacher Contract

  • The contract must be written by the student and signed by the teacher.
  • It must include objectives (what, when and how they will be completed).
  • Students can listen to the lesson if necessary.
  • Their work must be finished at the same time or ahead of the command lesson.


  • Student works on their own.
  • They must find their own resources.
  • Students must be finished at the same time or ahead of the command lesson.


Self-directed learning was developed through years of research, study and practical application by educational pioneers Don and Anne Green. Originally devised for the gifted and talented student, this program has proven equally powerfully at maximizing the potential of all students.

Benefits include:

  • Students take risks more frequently and feel comfortable doing so.
  • Students gain a sense of ownership.
  • Everyone feels like it is “their” classroom.
  • Everyone is given the same opportunity.
  • Students achieve a greater and deeper learning experience.
  • Students respect & appreciate one another.
  • Students are encouraged to achieve success by using his/her strengths.
  • Students take responsibility and ownership for personal learning.
  • Students receive support and encouragement from peers & staff.
  • Creates a positive classroom atmosphere.
  • Students learn from each other.
  • Individualizes each child’s learning
  • Social interaction facilitates learning.
  • Teacher shares the same community as the students.
  • Students build on one another’s ideas.
  • Students practice socialization everyday.
  • Students learn proper ways to socialize.
  • Students feel safe in their environment.
  • Students learn to take turns sharing their stories and ideas.
  • Students become motivated, active learners.
  • Allows curriculum and resource to support the learning instead of leading the learning.