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Revolutionary Self Directed Learning Opportunities: Traveling to India

This article takes you to the continent of Asia to the city of Bangalore, India is where Stonehill 첥 School is situated. I could not feel more like I’m at home while observing learning opportunities that are presented there in a dynamic environment. I was born in a neighboring island country in the Indian ocean called Sri Lanka: the people, climate and school environment resonated very familiar emotions of warm climate in the school setting  to me and it gave me goosebumps. There are 22 separate official languages, and it is home to a total of 121 languages and 270 mother tongues according to Wikipedia research in 2022. It’s also home to the world’s oldest language, Hindi. नमस्ते Namaste is our greeting as we enter into an inquiry about self guided, self directed learning while exploring what the school has to offer to serve the community it is situated in. Gotten me definitely interested in reflecting about my inquiry into community connections that schools have in the country, city that they are situated in. In a country that is very diverse that had great philosophers such as Mahatma Gandhi who said this memorable quote: “Be the change you want to see in the WORLD”… the world can learn from the ideology of empowering learning through building portfolios.

As a community, education has evolved over the past couple of years as we in education had to change our practice and adapt to the new given situation at hand so that we can engage learning opportunities for students so that they can be successful in achieving curriculum expectations. As a Grade 2 classroom teacher, I relate to self directed teaching opportunities which are guided by scaffolded learning opportunities to engage a more technology based curriculum that I can deliver as an online teacher.  My grade 2’s can read, type work on multiple screens at the same time and their world has forever been changed on how they see education. I once had a student ask what real school is like? It is then when I reflected that this group of Grade 2’s have not been to traditional schools ever, this is what they know as school. Not bad I think, getting up staying home and learning from home and engaging socially through technology which is connecting everyone globally and making our world a bit smaller.

The Self Guided Learning Model

When I had the opportunity to read John Bertken’s work he  states, “At the start of COVID, I came to the realization that we could offer an enhanced opportunity for personal growth to our students without taking away from the academic side.” The School with its symbiotic relationship with the community it serves as Mr. Bertken states an interesting opportunity for learning to occur in non-traditional settings with independent learning models. Self-guided learning would definitely benefit all learners…students who love school or experience challenges in school to open the door of endless opportunities to teach, learn and share their learning through an inquiry based learning approach which revolves around the student.

Symbiotic Relationship in the Community

Building a supportive climate in the community each school is located in is very important to me as a teacher, therefore I was curious about the symbiotic relationship between the school and the community which was mentioned by Mr. Bertken.

I had a couple of questions for educators at the school as I worked on this article

To see how they have built a safe, trusting relationship in the world we serve as we step out of our classrooms, into the communities we serve in as educators.

Here is one of my favorite Media Arts lessons to keep the community connected through sports education: to engage World Community Connections while having a competitive spirit!  I always say sports unite the world and provide opportunities to have spirit as nations to feel pride and establish themselves in the united, peaceful global communities that we live in. Cricket brings countries together and it is positive crowds to develop the economy while establishing and maintaining positive relationships among countries.

Exploring Research on Self Guided Learning

“Learning where the learner is not reliant on the input from a ‘teacher’ or their ‘peers’ in order to achieve the learning outcomes. It allows the learner to engage with learning at his/her own pace and at times that suit him/her. This can also be referred to as self-directed learning.” as stated by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.

3 Benefits of Self Guided Learning:

  • Maintains student interest on the topic at hand
  • Explore build a higher understanding of a topic
  • Self directed process to continue to engage works


John Bertken states “The most interesting part of my job as the coordinator for student activities is to meet with the students and listen to the ideas they have.  The energy that exists from the students when they have ownership of the ideas permeates the community and enhances the overall atmosphere.  Student leadership is great and when tapped into properly can produce some incredible things.” The website “Let’s do more”: is a site that promotes events that are happening in the school that connects the school to the community. you can explore the website to learn more about Stonehill Academy’s Programming opportunities for students. The group tasks that promote community engagement events seem endless as we explore opportunities prior to the pandemic. Student, staff and community engagement to ensure that staff are interacting and building relationships with the community members they serve are pertinent to ensuring student success and it’s evident in the programming opportunities presented on the site.

10 Reasons to use Inquiry-Based Learning (Graphic Credit:
10 Reasons to use Inquiry-Based Learning (Graphic Credit:

Honestly, looking back if I got an opportunity to work and study on my own I would have finished high school way faster and worked through topics at hand that would have guided my knowledge into pursuing higher education. I was that girl who loved school but loved working when I was 16 years old so nothing could take away the work experience I gained from responsibility skills to time management skills and developing a working knowledge while I completed high school classes. Today the youth have schools that can offer programming that is non-standard and structured like this to pursue their educational and career goals which I think is innovative.

Educators can think about:

  • Maintaining establishing rapport with the students
  • Consider motivation levels in completing tasks
  • Feedback choices on how to establish next steps
Ideas for Inquiry-based Learning (Graphic Credit:
Ideas for Inquiry-based Learning (Graphic Credit:

It is all about giving choice and voice to students to learn according to how they want while as an educator providing guided and engaging programming to enhance learning opportunities. As an educator who has taught for 21 years, this approach suited me best as I pursued professional development for myself working with video podcasting, interviews to elaborate on professional networking and when exploring the possibility of highlighting teaching around the world. I think it’s invaluable to focus on the differentiated approaches that make each individual teacher stand out out of 70 million teachers who are very different from each other. As a community of educational professionals with a guided mindset we can be influential and successful as a group of individuals.

I would like to thank the following educational professional for his time and contributions in making this article possible at Stonehill 첥 School: Mr. John Bertken: The Whole School Sports and Activities Coordinator


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Nilmini Ratwatte Henstridge
Teacher at heart, who lives in Ontario, Canada. As an elementary educator, I love developing dynamic curriculum lesson ideas for classrooms. My area of expertise would be integrating equity and social justice topics into lesson plans to inspire conversations and connect communities. I was born in Sri Lanka, and we immigrated to Canada, where I now call home with family and friends. I look forward to traveling in my spare time, getting to know different cultures, and exploring historical sites worldwide. Reading for fun is something I often do, and I love book clubs anytime. If I were to do something every day, it would be learning to cook new cultural dishes when I’m home entertaining. When I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy blogging: read the “Equity and Inclusion, Just Got Better” Blog Series with the Teach Better Team coming out in the Summer of 2021. Inspired by collaborating and teaming with other educators as I am a lifelong learner at heart.

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