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How to Motivate Pupils In Own Learning: For Teachers and Parents; Individual Education Plans; Self-Monitoring

Updated on September 15, 2018
annart profile image

Ann is a retired teacher of literacy and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) to multi-national & dyslexic students, having a DipSpLD

Having read missolive’s hub Teaching Reluctant and Struggling Readers part 1, I was reminded about how important it is to engage the pupil in directing his or her own learning. My involvement with dyslexic students has shown me how important it is to give them a voice in their own schooling.

The inclusion of any student in formatting his/her own learning is a key factor in achieving success, whether or not there is a special need or difficulty.

A Student's Needs

  • having a vision, a goal,
  • knowing that goals can be achieved,
  • recognising when they have succeeded,
  • being able to self-monitor,
  • receiving recognition and rewards.

Given the above, the student will have:

  • improved self-esteem & confidence - be able to shine,
  • more success, more pride,
  • a stronger ability to try whatever s/he wants.


Section of IEP for Individual Literacy
Section of IEP for Individual Literacy

IEP (Individual Education Plan)

Here in England, once pupils are diagnosed or statemented as having a Special Educational Need or Specific Learning Difficulty, the specialist teacher or SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) oversees an IEP for each student.

In an ideal situation, all students would have an IEP but unfortunately practicalities do not allow either the teacher-time nor the facilities for this to be the case.

An IEP states, in general terms,

  • what difficulties the pupil has,
  • recommendations as to what should be done about these difficulties,
  • suggestions of ways in which this can be addressed.

It is then used every 6 months, by following this procedure:

  • all subject teachers’ comments regarding progress, concerns, objectives and prescribed action are entered onto the form (see below for the format of a SMART IEP)
  • the SENCO goes through the comments with the pupil; this is essential so that the pupil is totally involved in the process and can make his/her contributions by airing thoughts, concerns, expectations and by realising achievements.
  • The pupil provides information regarding school clubs/activities attended and interests in which s/he takes part, the individual’s view of what progress has been made and what his/her parents think of their child’s progress.
  • any views or comments the pupil wishes to make are noted (not necessarily for inclusion in the report), any worries or difficulties discussed if the pupil wishes. At this stage it is important the pupil is listened to and taken seriously and that wishes are taken into account where possible.
  • the pupil is then asked to set him/herself a relatively short-term target, to get to a certain level in a subject or improve behaviour or achieve a sporting success or maybe a higher reading age; suggestions can be made from points made by the teachers, but the choice is the pupil’s alone.

Maybe the most important aspect of this process is that the pupil sees that he has some control, some input, some recognition and that self-monitoring takes place. When the IEP is reviewed, progress can be seen on paper as achievements are noted and it is evident when targets have been reached. A child’s self-esteem and confidence can receive a tremendous boost when s/he can see that progress has been made and that pride is justified.

A 'Smart' IEP

A SMART IEP must be:

Specific - one or two concerns only should be mentioned.

Measurable - objectives must be measurable, for example by grade or age or number.

Action worded - precise words that are relevant to tasks the pupil is required to undertake.

Realistic and relevant - the pupil must be able to attain the objective which must be relevant to the concerns raised.

Time-limited - a realistic time scale must be given in which the task should be completed and the time can be agreed by the pupil.

What does this mean?

It means that close monitoring and self-monitoring of the student is possible and is regular.

It is a short-term document and so must be revisited often and revised appropriately.

It gives parents information about their children’s programmes and progress; ensures them that the children are being monitored and being given appropriate and beneficial schooling.

It involves parents in the education and choices of their children.

Most importantly, it involves the student in his/her own education, allows him/her to voice opinions, concerns and wishes. The chance to talk about their interests and aspirations, all of which should be taken into consideration within their programme, is important. An education built on interests and ambitions is much more likely to succeed.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barrington Stoke readers (see link)Nessy Games Player (see link)
Barrington Stoke readers (see link)
Barrington Stoke readers (see link)
Nessy Games Player (see link)
Nessy Games Player (see link)

Relevance to Reading

All the above can apply across the board of education. The example (see table) is part of an IEP for a reluctant and/or struggling reader.

Possible layout of an IEP:

Page 1 will deal with personal details and statemented concerns & recommendations.

Page 2 will be an overview of each subject with a positive and encouraging comment about progress

Page 3 will deal with each subject in turn - this example is for Individual Literacy Support

(this is where the table would be)

Subsequent pages deal with the interests, schools clubs, sports etc., the parental opinions/concerns and the student’s own view of his/her future.

The final, and important section, deals with the student setting him/herself a target.

The personal target should be short-term and realistic and revisited when next discussed. For example it might be: ‘I would like to be able to reach a reading age of 10 by half-term’, or ‘I want to be able to make more friends and get along with people better’, or ‘I want to get at least 3 Bs for my GCSEs.


Even though the above is a process followed by teachers, it is something any parent or others working with children/students can use as a basis. There doesn’t have to be a special need nor any particular difficulties; the inclusion of any student in formatting his/her own learning is a key factor in achieving success.

So keep these points in mind:

  • Ask the students what they feel is needed, what problems might exist practically or from their point of view; you may need to provide pointers.
  • Ask how they feel about each subject being studied; weaknesses and strengths.
  • Ask what stage they would like to reach in each, e.g. how much increase in reading age.
  • Ask how they like to work - give suggestions and choices (lots of visual, practical work....)
  • Give them indications of how they can see their own progress - looking back over work, points for each achievement - a repeated test/task with obvious progress each time.
  • Give rewards for progress and, more importantly, for effort. Let the students choose their own rewards (within reason!).

Copyright annart (AFC) 2014 (No copying without permission; no changing of original hub)

References & More Hubs


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      CraftytotheCore: That's fantastic, not only for him to write the story but to be brave enough to express what he thought. You must be very proud.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your input. It's an area where there should be more awareness; few special educational needs are well understood, even by some teachers, sadly! All the best to you and your son. Ann

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      4 years ago

      This is a really great article. My son has Autism. One thing that he has learned to do is talk about how he is feeling. Today for example, he wrote a story in school. After school, he became very restless. Finally he told me he was kind of embarrassed because he wrote his own story and was shy about asking me to read it. This was a huge milestone for him to express how he is feeling. He is a terrific advocate for himself as I have always encouraged him to express in words how he feels.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you so much, DREAM ON. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and your kind words.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      5 years ago

      Great advice that goes along way.Through the years there are bad teachers just as bad apples that can ruin a students expectations and progress.Following your detailed plan I can see how good teachers can help students achieve their greatest potential.I am proud to follow your work.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      It really works because they have input instead of having to leave everything to the teacher. They love being able to say exactly what they want! Thanks for the comments.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      I really like how the student is involved in the process of creating an IEP. I haven't been involved in them at all, so it is interesting to see the process.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, kingmaxler, for your kind comments. I've got used to being as clear as possible when making writing 'dyslexia friendly', though it doesn't always work! Take care.

    • kingmaxler profile image


      6 years ago from Olympia, Washington USA

      Excellent article. Voted up and following. I enjoyed the information. It was clear and concise. A pleasure to read your writing.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Thank you for your kind comments and for sharing. I hope it proves useful to as many as possible.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      6 years ago from Isle of Man

      This is an excellent article that explains very clearly the procedures in place and which would be an invaluable guide for teachers, parents and students alike. This will be shared through my network including Facebook and Twitter. Thank you.


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