By Maureen Cohen, Assistant Superintendent, Mendon-Upton Regional School District
Student agency was at the center of our December 2017 conversation for the Inspired Learning Project. Each month we tackle a core characteristic and pillar of inspired learning to help build our capacities as educators to continue to grow and move our practice.
In this capacity building, we developed a shared understanding of what we felt were key characteristics of student agency through the lens of how we view an entrepreneur. The group came up with the following characteristics of an entrepreneur:
self-manager, self-starter, visionary, productive problem seeker and solver, independent, innovative, reflective, creative, confident, innovative, curious, collaborative, turns challenges into opportunities, brave, desires feedback, forward thinker, has focus, self-evaluator
As we expanded our thoughts on the characteristics of an entrepreneur, we moved into a discussion about student agency and how student agency is more than just giving students choice. The group felt that agency is about deeper learning opportunities and personalization. The conversation really took off when we discussed Spencer’s metaphor in his book of a teacher being a tour guide who brings you through a tour. We pondered, who should be the tour guide, the teacher or the students?
One participant stated, “The problem in schools is that we tell them they are going to Paris, or Rome, but they have no choice over where they are going in their learning. When students have the agency to choose their own tour, that is really important for fostering student agency.”
We ended the highly engaging conversation with some actionable approaches to add more agency into what we are doing. Here are a couple of examples provided:
We hope you join us in our next conversation this Thursday, January 11th at 8PM as we tackle the concept of building authentic learning opportunities for our students.
Click above to share a practice that promotes student agency, ignites students' passions, or creates a bridge between classrooms & the real world.
Click above to nominate an educator to be celebrated by the Inspired Learning Project.