I’m sure every PYP teacher has asked himself / herself this question many a times, especially as ‘student agency’ is the buzzword in the enhanced PYP model. We learn so much from our own experiences, however there is much value in learning from the experiences of others – especially those who tread the same path and share their pearls of wisdom.
My initial understanding of student agency was giving students a choice of medium in expressing their understanding, a choice of tool in assessments and co-constructing assessment rubrics .
Reading Trevor MacKenzie’s book ‘The inquiry mindset – assessment edition’ has been a completely eye-opening experience. I have been reading this book as part of a book club of like minded PYP educators around the world – Ecurious Minds. The value addition this community brings to the understanding of the book is incredible!
Sharing my insights from the book which helped expand and deepen the scope of student agency for me –
Co-designing learning with students and involving their voice in the learning process in a variety of ways is essential to the inquiry model.
3 benefits of co-designing learning experiences with students –
- Students see that their voice matters in an authentic manner. Learning is a partnership between student and teacher and that their decisions hold weight in the classroom.
- Teachers can more powerfully meet the needs of their diverse classrooms by planning learning with students rather than for students. By co-designing learning with students, teachers can coach, model, and differentiate to best support students in taking on the heavy lifting in learning.
- The learning community is shaped by teachers and students working together – students gain more agency over learning, and teachers discover a balance in their workload. This is a process that takes time – with consistent scaffolding, clear values, and a continual connection to co-designing that students become increasingly successful in taking ownership over their learning.
How can we involve students in different aspects of their learning ?
- By posing a series of guiding questions,
- Getting students talking and sharing ideas in small groups,
- Gathering information to synthesize and draw conclusions from, teachers can start the process of co-designing the type of classroom where agency will thrive.
I did this activity in the first 2 weeks of the academic session to set the tone and understand better how my students want to learn. Students discussed their ideas in breakout rooms and then shared on the Padlet.
The common ideas generated from these guiding questions helps to create a co-designed document that becomes a collective commitment to recognized beliefs and practices.
It is important to realise that this is an ongoing document that can be revisited and modified at different times as learners grow and change throughout the year.
These are the common ideas that emerged from our collaboration during co-designing and I’m quite thrilled with the ideas students came up with !
Looking forward to the next part outlined in the book – co-designing competencies and dispositions with students – keep your eyes peeled for the next post !