Be the boss of your studies!

Dogme approach - for teachers; 10 ways to encourage students to be responsible; Personal Experience - Anjali Pv

when students are the bosses

Also known as “Teaching Unplugged”, this approach emerged in 2000 as a movement of teachers who believed that learning should be driven by the students themselves and not the resources available. The term was first coined by Scott Thornbury in his article where he criticised teachers’ overdependence on coursebooks and published materials. He claimed that material overload negatively affected real communication and that actual learning should come from the students and whatever they bring to the classroom. Thornbury encourages teachers to use learning opportunities that occur spontaneously in class more than coursebooks and advocates for putting aside books, flashcards, recording and other visual materials.

Key principals of the DOGME approach:

  1. Education is communication and dialogue.
    Communication is key to learning, the main focus is on the interaction between learners and teachers and the learners themselves. Conversation allows learners to come up with coherent ideas, and not isolated sentences that might not be relevant. Students are more likely to produce utterances and use pre-existing vocabulary and grammar in natural conversation rather than pre-fabricated pieces and functions.

  2. Relevance and emerging materials
    If the material is irrelevant to students they are unlikely to start using the language taught by it. It is the emerging grammar and vocabulary that should be taught, practiced and expanded. Materials brought by the students themselves will engage them and trigger their learning process. It is the teacher’s role to facilitate discussion and bring students’ focus to the emerging language.

  3. No textbooks
    A DOGME classroom is a textbook free zone, teaching is material light. When the lesson is not dependent on imported materials created by somebody else it will empower both students and a teacher.

  4. Scaffolding
    The teacher provides the interactional support within which learners can feel safe enough to take risks and extend their present competence. The learning of any skill is co-constructed by the teacher and the learner, and as the latter becomes more confident and fluent the scaffolding is reduced and gradually becomes redundant.

Pros and Cons of the DOGME approach

  1. Teacher preparation time is reduced since the topics for discussion come from the learners themselves. However some may say, that since the teacher has to react to all emerging problems and has to be ready to provide clear explanation and instruction, they have to be even more prepared than usual.

  2. Students are more engaged and confident since they are in control of their own learning, and as a result motivation grows significantly. On the other hand, teachers and learners may feel uneasy and strange at first, not knowing what to do with such freedom. It requires a lot of student autonomy and self-awareness.

  3. Topics for discussion are not limited by coursebooks and encompass anything the students’ imagination may produce. But not everybody always knows what they want to talk about or can find new things of interest and that puts a strain on the students, who cannot handle such responsibility.


As with almost everything in life, balance is key to success. Using DOGME approach exclusively may deprive students of the knowledge they don’t know they may need. But “unplugging” your classroom from the textbook and materials on occasion may greatly increase students’ involvement, motivation and boost their confidence. Using a variety of approaches in appropriate times is what will create a perfect learning environment and yield best results!


the source

1. Don’t make all the decisions

Allow choice. Encourage students to make decisions about how they learn best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and practise skills in a variety of ways.  Cater for different learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way. Integrate technology to encourage creative expression of learning.

2. Don’t play guess what’s in my head

Ask open-ended questions, with plenty of possible answers which lead to further questions.   Acknowledge all responses equally. Use Thinking Routines to provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities.

3. Talk less

Minimise standing out front and talking at them.  Don’t have rows of learners facing the front of the class.  Arrange the seats so that students can communicate, think together, share ideas and construct meaning by discussing and collaborating. Every exchange doesn’t need to go through the teacher or get the teacher’s approval, encourage students to respond directly to each other.

4. Model behaviors and attitudes that promote learning.

Talk about your own learning. Be an inquirer. Make your thinking process explicit. Be an active participant in the learning community. Model and encourage enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and reflection.  Show that you value initiative above compliance.

5. Ask for feedback

Get your students to write down what they learned, whether they enjoyed a particular learning experience, what helped their learning, what hindered their learning and what might help them next time. Use a Thinking Routine like ‘Connect, extend, challenge’. Take notice of what they write and build learning experiences based on it.

6. Test less

Record student thinking and track development over time. Provide opportunities for applying learning in a variety of ways. Create meaningful assessment tasks that  allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish expressions of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience. Place as much value on process and progress as on the final product.

7.  Encourage goal setting and reflection.

Help students to define goals for their learning. Provide opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide constructive, specific feedback.   Student blogs are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers.

8. Don’t over plan.

If you know exactly where the lesson is leading and what you want the kids to think, then you‘re controlling the learning. Plan a strong provocation that will ‘invite the students in’ and get them excited to explore the topic further. But don’t  plan in too much detail where it will go from there.

9.  Focus on learning, not work.

Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Avoid worksheets where possible. Don’t start by planning activities, start with the ‘why‘ and then develop learning experiences which will support independent learning.  Include appropriate tech tools to support the learning.

10.  Organise student led conferences

Rather than reporting to parents about their children’s learning, have student led 3-way conferences, with teacher and parents. The student talks about her strengths and weaknesses, how her learning has progressed and areas for improvement. She can share the process and the product of her learning.


How to organise self studying

by Anjali Pv

Okay people, CA intermediate student here. I study for more than 12 hours a day and have been doing so for more than 14 months now. So you may find my two cents a little reliable :)

  • Find the right books.

    • A book that has worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Find a book that you find yourself comfortable with, a book that communicates easily to you, a book that you understand. ( Of course it must be noted that first preference should always been given to the books published by your institution / board of studies)

  • Don't take up something just because someone else is doing it.

    • Most people say that making notes while studying is mandatory. I've never found it helpful though. I have a photographic memory. I don't mean that I never forget anything that I've read once, I mean that my memory technique involves remembering which part of which page my required answer is on. Taking notes doesn't help me and therefore I don't take any. Likewise with study timings, you do you.

  • Make things fun.

    • I use plenty of colours if at all I take notes. Plenty of highlighters and sticky notes ( take a water shot every time I say sticky notes :p)

  • I like it when my stuff is colour coded and I enjoy making lists and makeshift flash cards with sticky notes and all. Therefore I make my lists or important notes and charts on coloured A4 sheets and stick them on my wall. I write down my next day's schedule on a sticky note each night. Once again, you do you. Constantly try to keep yourself interested in the process, that's very important.

  • If you're dealing with MCQ's I have an amazing strategy for you. No doubt most of you have MCQ handbooks on which you practice then erase and then practice then erase. I did that for almost 5 months. Of course, the simplest solution is to write down your answers in a notebook and later correct yourself.

    • But here's the twist. Colour code your answers as well based on how you arrived at the answer. Example,

  1. Red - I've seen the question before.

  2. Blue - I'm familiar with the theory.

  3. Black - I guessed.

  • I'm sure it seems like a lot now but once you get habituated to it, there's nothing like it I promise you. You know exactly where you're going wrong and which aspect you have to improve upon. Try it for a week, for my sake.

  • Start maintaining a journal.

    • Start small. Note down your goals, targets, plan of action, schedules etc. (Oh boy this might be an answer on it's own). It helps you have a plan and when it comes to studying, there's no motivation like a good plan. It helps you keep a record of how much you've accomplished and that's very empowering.

  • Take regular tests.

    • I'm not going to harp on this one because we all know why it's important. Just do it okay?

  • Breathe.

    • Take one day at a time. You're doing just fine, remember that. Your studies are very important but that can't be your only thing in life. Study, work hard, but don't let that come at the cost of your peace of mind. Don't destroy your mental health over that.

    • Trust me, I've learnt this the hard way. Relax and breathe. You're okay. You're doing great. Believe in yourself.

That’s all for now!
Stay amazing ♥