How can we nurture learner self-direction and autonomy within the context of institutional constraints, predetermined competencies, and accreditation practices?
The best way to nurture self direction and autonomy is to give learners choices, and to enable critical thinking. Your institutional restraints, predetermined competencies, and accreditation practices all give you certain goals that you need to meet, but it is your creativity and differentiation as a teacher that allows you to give your students choices for the path in which they need to achieve those goals. A good example is a menu activity:
You choose Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner groups (based on achievement level lowest to highest respectively)
Your menu consists of Appetizers, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, and Desserts. Appetizers are basic knowledge information about the subject. Main Dishes are the Meat, and Potatoes of the subject things students must understand, but is beyond just the facts, this is usually a concept. Side Dishes are about the subject, but include other disciplines such as literacy or math if it is a history based assignment. Desserts are above and beyond what the ...
This solution exemplifies the best way to nurture self direction and autonomy for differentiation lessons, and provides a description and sample of a educational exercise to help with this.