You Need Autonomy | Hooray for Monday

January 17, 2021

By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching

Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students. 

Psychologist William Glasser defines five core human needs that merit our attention: Autonomy, Belonging, Competence, Developmental Appropriateness, and Engagement.

Because we learn and grow best when our needs are met, often when we’re not thriving these unmet needs can be at the root of the problem. Identifying these unmet needs can be the first step in addressing them. As we strive to meet our students’ academic and socio-emotional needs, we’re wise to address our own needs as well. In this month’s Inspired Teaching Institutes, we’re sharing a tool designed to help teachers assess and better meet their needs as learners, teachers, and human beings.

Today and for the next four weeks I will share a simple and powerful tool to assess, and better meet, your own needs in each of these areas. So let’s get started…with Autonomy.

“I want to have a say in what happens to me.” 

Autonomy is the need for independence and self-determination; the ability to make choices, to create, to explore, and to express oneself freely; to have sufficient space, to move around, and to feel unrestricted in determining choices and free will.

Where is this need in your life right now according to this spectrum? 

How is this need for autonomy being met in your life right now?

What changes might be necessary in order for the need for autonomy to be better met? 

Our need for autonomy is often challenged by factors outside of our control and so a lack of autonomy can feel overwhelming to try and shift. So as you reflect on these questions ask yourself what IS in your control. Notice how you are able to meet that need for yourself when you do simple things like choosing your route to work, what you wear in the morning, how you greet your students. Is there satisfaction in these moments of independence? Where else might you build on these moments throughout your day? Does that shift how you feel?

As we explore the ABCDE’s over the next few weeks, you’ll be able to access the resources we share on this site which we encourage you to bookmark. Each week’s questions appear in a reflection tool on this page. When you complete the reflection, a copy will be emailed to you. See what happens if you complete the reflection a few times throughout this week.

  • Does that act of reflection influence how you go about your day?
  • Does it change the way you perceive the actions of others, or how you interact with them?

As you consider learner needs from your own perspective, you may gain insights that transfer into the lives of your students. And that’s the kind of bountiful learning that benefits everyone.

September Inspired Teaching Institute

Teachers can’t control what happens between the time students wake up and when they arrive at school but they have a lot of control over what happens when students cross the classroom threshold. Participants in this fast-paced, idea-rich Institute will learn 20 different strategies for starting the school day!