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Why I feel like a fraud (while I'm not, obviously)

Last week, I was giving a keynote presentation. All of a sudden someone interrupted me. She had been taking notes and paying close attention. She looked a bit troubled, though.

“What you are saying is so much at the core of what we should be talking about.


I was so GRATEFUL for her interruption. If it came down to me, this would be the only thing we would be talking about in the months to come.

Over. And. Over. Again.

Until everyone started getting BORED 🥱.

I know BOREDOM is probably a weird result to aim for BUT hear me out.

Showing the bigger picture first

When I introduce self-regulated learning in a training or at an event, I start by showing 'the bigger picture'. Instead of explaining everything piece by piece first, I start by showing the 'picture on the puzzle box' (read more here).

It's my summary of 30+ years of research about

  • how people learn and

  • how to support students' learning most effectively.

I know it isn't the easiest presentation to digest. (And it wasn't the easiest presentation to put together either, believe me. 😅)

So, it's not a complete surprise when people ask me:

  • Will you send me the presentation afterward?

  • Will we go over this again later?

  • Can we watch a replay?

I'll be honest with you. The perfectionist in me immediately goes "Oh, it was too much. I need to make it even smaller.".

But you know, my experience over the past couple of years has shown me that presenting the core principles around supporting students' (self-regulated) learning first, helps teachers learn more in the long run.

Let's NOT pretend that learning is... simple

So, I welcome comments like 'It's a lot, will we go over it again?'.

It is a lot, indeed. I know.

But it’s OK if you don’t understand all of it at once.

It is OK to feel a bit overwhelmed. Why?

Too often, we try to turn something that’s as complex as learning into something that’s simple.

It’s just not. So let’s not pretend it is.

Let’s just work with the complexity and accept it as a fact.

You probably know that the more we expect from our students, the more chances we give them to learn. Well, I believe the same is true for teachers. We should set HIGH EXPECTATIONS for teachers' learning too! I REFUSE to think teachers are not capable of grasping how people learn, let alone would not want to know.

What we do need though, is TIME. Time to start exploring the evidence-based principles presented in the bigger picture, and time to start seeing how all this shows up in their own classroom practice.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Luckily, I’m not alone in claiming that we shouldn't stick to tips, tricks, and good practices. That, instead, we should do our very best to make all we know about self-regulated learning as easy to digest as possible.

I feel so PRIVILEGED to be surrounded by teachers and school leaders who speak out of their own experiences and…. tend to agree.

Just a week ago, there was this one school leader. She had followed quite a bit of my lectures and workshops before. After my lecture, she shared her experiences:

I’ve heard you talk about self-regulated learning a lot already. Every time again, I learn something new. Even when you give a lecture that is 90% the same as the one I attended before, I still come. And I still learn! Thank you!”

She’s a sweetheart for sharing that with me, don’t you think?

It is true, though: I do repeat myself.

It makes me FEEL like a FRAUD, sometimes.

(Did I just write and underline that? Yes, I did. 🙈)

Obviously, I AM NOT a fraud.

Yet, sometimes I catch myself thinking "I'm just telling the same story over and over again."

The thing is, as an expert, I recognize self-regulated learning in any given situation.

I can see beyond the specifics of concrete situations.

Whether it’s

  • a classroom full of university students,

  • teachers working together,

  • mothers interacting with their toddlers,

  • a science class or soccer game,...

I CANNOT not see self-regulated learning.

Yet, this is not the case for BEGINNERS. People who learn something new have a hard time recognizing and applying it in various contexts.

So, I guess it’s OK to feel like I just keep telling the same thing over and over again. After all, REPETITION is a powerful learning strategy. 😉

So, I don’t hold back the first time I introduce self-regulated learning in a training.

And after that... Yes, I just continue to repeat everything over and over again.


  • I add new bits of information,

  • I address your (new) questions,

  • I give examples from various contexts,

  • I update my contents with the newest research, …

And we slow down, trying to apply the theory to your specific context.

I’m confident that every time you listen, you will hear something new, because…

you are a couple of steps ahead in your own journey.

You will have new questions.

You will be facing new challenges. You will have gained new insights.

So, once you start getting bored, I’m confident you are starting to see what I see. You’ll recognize and apply self-regulated learning everywhere you go.

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