The autonomous and authentic principle includes choice, control over one’s work, flexibility and opportunities. The teacher teams must have the support of the school administration, but management should give the team the autonomy they need to function properly. Teachers themselves are the ones who can change their work and the school. They are the experts of their own teaching, students, the school and education in their context. The need to change evolves from the real-world problems teachers face every day.

“There are substantial benefits to be gained from autonomous regulation as compared to more controlled regulation”. (Bonk & Khoo, 2014)  Keeping this in mind, administrators should create an atmosphere in the school that respects teachers’ choices, and gives possibilities for teachers to engage in teamwork that is relevant to their needs.

One of the basic components in Finnish education, in addition to trust, is teacher autonomy. Teachers are free to plan their teaching, as long as they obey the law, anyway they feel is beneficial to the students. Teachers can also try all kind of different pedagogical approaches alone or with their colleagues. The freedom to try and fail is essential. This is what this principle underlines: trial and error!

A drawing of a person.

Autonomous and Authentic activities

Activity 1: Administrators’ action plan to promote teacher collaboration

Checklist for the administrator (PDF)

People do best if their decisions are put into some systematic written form. This PDF offers an action-planning template the teachers can use to plan their collaboration

Villa, Thousand & Nevin

Activity 2: UbD Backward Design

UbD Backward Design Template for planning (Word)

A template to be used to design an authentic learning unit. It focuses on shared and desired results.

Wiggins & McTighe

Activity 3: Classroom study through peer observation

Peer observation template for recording data (Word)

1. Teachers start with a study of existing curriculum and standards. They identify and discuss the critical concepts and skills to be demonstrated by the students. 

2. Choose a lesson to observe. 

3. Observe the classroom and collect data, concentrating on the critical concepts and skills discussed earlier. 

4. After the observation teachers review the observation data together and plan changes if needed. 

5. Repeat the process for the next teacher in the group.

An activity to be used with teachers who want peer assistance to determine the best solutions for an authentic situation.

These seven principles can form effective “points of entry” into the observation and feedback process:

Prior knowledge– What students know coming into the classroom can help or hinder their learning.

Knowledge organization– How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.

Motivation– Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn.

Mastery– To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned.

Practice and feedback– Goal-directed practice with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning.

Student development and class climate– Students’ current level of development interacts with social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.Self-directed learning– To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of a task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.

Northeastern University CATLR