Student agency is by no means a new concept. It is one that has been toyed with for generations. As Sam Sheratt said on his blog in 2018 “Progressive and innovative educators have been doing some of these ideas for years. Schools have been designed around them. Movements have evolved around them. Books have been written about them.”
So what have we noticed about agency while we have been learning online, during COVID-19?
Have we noticed ….
- Students intuitively ask questions that get them caught up in seeking knowledge and furthering their skills, no matter where they are learning?
- Planning and teaching responsively rather than planning a series of lessons which we work through sequentially, provides richer, more meaningful and successful lessons, despite online platforms?
- Provocation is a powerful tool that immerses learners into the depth of curiosity and often the throes of productive struggle (a concept that Jo Boaler often shares)?
- Seeking to broaden understanding rather than gather reams of facts creates the platform for life long learners?
- Immersing learners in engagements that require critical thinking skills (that children perceive as being ‘fun’ and ‘playful’) allows them to develop essential skills that are transferable to all learning disciplines and all areas of their lives?
- Transdisciplinary learning is the most meaningful vehicle to empower students to fill their ‘mental toolbox’ so that they can draw on any skill, in any other learning area, rather than confining them to a ‘subject’?
- Teaching responsively is the same as ‘individualizing learning’ and serves as an effective strategy, no matter what the context is?
- When we name and notice actions, skills, dispositions and progress, students do the same and they strive to own and emulate this practise?
Have we noticed that when we ensure we make what we notice integral in teaching and learning, learner agency is developed in an authentic way?