Tag Archives: Learner Agency

Learner Agency

9 Aug

learner-cycle

This year I have been exploring “learner agency” in my classes and school wide with the HOF group. In a funny kind of way, the staffroom is my classroom. Like most classes all around the world, I have had a range of abilities from dependent to independent. I believe the teachers’ role in an agentic community is not the gatekeeper: ‘the traditional, stand at the front and talk, I hold all of the knowledge and power and decision making’ type gate keeper, no. An agentic learning community needs an expert lead learner. Someone who inspires growth and challenge from within each individual learner. So, this is where I’ve developed this concept of “counting to five” or “breathe in, breathe out”.

I was introduced to something similar at my daughter’s preschool. I understood the concept it as this: The day is a series of tides: and they had moments of high tides and low tides – the activities would change depending on which tide phase they were in. Hey I really liked the concept.

So I have approached this year, with all my learners, new to ‘learner agency’ and agentic learning by ‘breathing in’: structure, goal setting, independent learning and reflection. And then ‘breathing out’: inquiry based, student decision making, goal doing (where you practise or work towards the goals you have set) and reflection. Now I must be honest I have had a range of success.

Most of my learners have flourished this year and I think it has benefited them by having the agency in to lead their learning.

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Early Findings

30 Jun

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Our HOF Inquiry this year has been the following:

What will an innovative learning environment look like at Sacred Heart Girls’ College New Plymouth?

Recently I added this particular clip by Charles Leadbeater.

I am now reading the findings of the inquiry along with the HoF group. We are discussing next steps. I believe the following are key conditions that can make a difference:

  1. A vision for learning is incessantly and clearly communicated

What is our vision? Make sure you know where you are going.

  1. Learning is future-focused

The world is changing, make sure the learning context recognises this. Observe the students, how they work and communicate. Email is becoming obsolete. Find different ways to assess e.g. make a website or tweet an answer.

  1. Culture takes time and perseverance

Once you have the vision – prioritise your steps. The reality is, change will take time. If you believe it, be resolute. Help those who are struggling to change, but stick to your guns.

  1. Be student centred

Do students have voice or agency? Put current practices through the ‘learning’ filter – do they still belong?

  1. Equipped and supported staff are essential

Vision + ‘Learning’ Filter = Regular PD to support through change. (Fullan)

  1. Technology is an environment for learning, not the driver

Students live in a world of technology – the school-world needs be relevant.

  1. Relationships matter

In the midst of all the learning, technology and activity nothing matters more than quality relationships. Students need to belong, be known, valued and accepted. This is only achieved through relationship. Our GEMS programme is central to this.

  1. Learning is authentic

Set in a real-world context, skills will be learnt readily when there is purpose.

  1. Creativity and innovation have expression

There will always be barriers to innovation, find ways to break or go around them. Support those who are willing to make the first step and embrace failure. See an earlier blog on this.

The inquiry continues.

Learner Agency

12 Mar

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I have been doing some thinking and reflecting after my learning tour on the Ten Educational Trends as noted by CORE in 2016. A link to these is here.

So, I thought might make a point of reflecting on each of these over the next few days.  I would like to begin however with one trend from 2015 which has been on my mind.

What is it then?

The idea that education is the process through which learners become capable of independent thought which, in turn, forms the basis for autonomous action, has had a profound impact on modern educational theory and practice. One way of thinking of learner agency is when learners have “the power to act”

Why do we need it?

There is a significant and growing demand for learners to be able to do more than receive instruction, follow a learning path designed by educators and complete problems and assignments presented to them by an teacher. Learners need to develop the capacity to shape and manage their learning without over-reliance on the direction and control of others. Too often teachers treat children as though they are incapable of making decisions or holding valid opinions. As children advance through the system, they develop a form of “learned helplessness” that keeps them from advocating for themselves. The process for learning and the role learners play must be different than most teachers experienced.

The current educational system was designed for teachers to control and manage the learning. This continues today because teachers are the ones held accountable and responsible for the learning instead of the learners. As educators, we must nurture, coach and build in learners more capacity to initiate, manage, and maintain their own learning. Learning will be a constant and high-priority activity throughout their lives and they will need the skills and tools to manage this process.

Teachers need to shift their thinking — away from youth as student to youth as learner and partner and resource for their own learning and others. We must make the crucial shift from preparing proficient students to developing skilled learners. The result will be learners who can play an active role in personalizing their learning and building their capacity to be successful productive citizens regardless of what their futures hold.

As teachers, we need to consider understanding the connection between good strategy, effort and use of resources to develop learner efficacy. We need to continue to help learners understand how they learn best and how they can support their learning. The role and importance of learner voice and choice is an issue ERO is guiding schools in with their review process. By building learner ownership of their learning this can only in increase student achievement and engagement.

This is a link to a document that I have been thinking a great about.

 

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