Building Student Agency

“What are you doing in your classroom now that you could turn over to students to do for themselves?” By Alan November

Close you eyes and imagine what a typical day looks like in your classroom and ask yourself these questions:

  • What percentage of time are you talking verse your students?
  • How often do you let students create verse consume knowledge?
  • How often do you ask for students ideas or feedback?

student

Student Agency is one of the most important skills we can give to our students. When we “rescue” students when they struggle or give the students answers because there is not enough time to get through the curriculum, we are doing a disservice and enabling them.

The below ideas will help you to build student agency in your classroom but the most important thing to remember is we (educators) need to get out of the students way and facilitate learning opportunities.

  1. Growth Mindset: Teaching students about having a growth mindset and that they can always learn new things or get better through practice. (See previous blog posts on growth mindsets to learn how.)
  2. Voice: Have students included in the conversations. Ask students how they want to learn in your classroom? Give them surveys about your projects and lessons so they can offer feedback. Another way to allow student voice is through goal setting and refection during class.
  3. Choice: No one wants to be told what to do all the time! Allowing students to choose what they want to work on builds agency and motivation. Often times teachers think that giving them choice means giving them ten things to chose from but that is not the case. Allow students to chose between two things such as which book they want to read,  what product do they want to create or which task they want to do.
  4. Thinking and Questioning: Allowing students to have time to think and process is important. Asking them questions to see what they truely know and have mastered also allows students to not only process things differently but self-regulate. There are different types of questioning strategies you can use in the classroom to also allow more student voice and thinking.  (More coming on this in next weeks blog post)
  5. Opportunities to be a Creator:  We need to change the way we see students, no longer as consumers, but as creators of their learning. Providing opportunities for students to create allows students to self-evaluate, self-regulate and self-motivate whiling showing mastery of content. Having students create podcasts, PSA announcements, iMovies etc allows students to go deeper with their learning too.

Authentic engagement occurs when students have agency and feel like they are apart of the school experience verse it being done to them. What changes will you make to add more student agency in your classroom?

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