We focused on Student Agency in the latest Principal’s Email Group for 2019. This is a school-wide focus during this academic year, and our goal is to grow self-directed learners, and increase levels of engagement in learning by giving students more of an active part in setting their own direction. We have some way to go in how we communicate this, and in order to gain greater buy-in from our parents, we will strive to share more information both on a class-to-class basis, and across the whole school.

As ever, we are grateful for all participants for their opinions and thoughts.

What are some things you’ve noticed that we do well to develop your child’s agency in their own learning?

-I know teachers have to identify those things at their parent interview but apart from that I am not sure how it’s used in their classroom. Though I know that he is aware of his strengths, weaknesss and what he is trying to achieve.
-During my daughter’s first week at PMPS she came home and spoke to us about goals. She asked me if I knew what a “goal” is and explained to me that her goal for the week was to ‘listen to the teacher and follow instructions’. She has just turned 5 and I was impressed that school had already introduced ‘goal setting’ to her. Individual goal setting is an excellent way to foster a child’s agency.
-Using technology as a learning strategy, e.g. videoing, google doc photo search. Give them the opportunity to decide the learning topic under the given theme as a proactive planning approach in Year 2.
-My son seems driven and enthusiastic to learn which shows me the teachers are fostering his interests and being flexible and open to his ideas for his learning.
-I think the learning model through inquiry gives them more freedom to direct their learning and have some initiative in their own learning. The school trips and the clubs that run throughout the school year are also good opportunities for students make choices.
-My daughter is set lots of inquiries for homework
-Use of reading eggs
-I do notice during this year my son more independent and more confident with his learning at school, maybe it is the agency or maybe he is more mature now and it impacts.

What ideas do you have, or have you heard of, that would enable to do this even more effectively?

-For NE learners, students can take agency for their own learning through student directed play-based learning. Students explore their own interests through play which is then developed by the teacher who directs the play towards curriculum-based learning activities in numeracy and literacy. Not only will this help develop agency but will also increase the self-efficacy of our 5 year olds.
-Train them to be more responsible for their own study; set a learning project with a goal and involve them in the planning of the strategy and objectives with their wits, interest and in adoption of technologies, etc.
-Continue to let the children drive the direction of their learning – we know that children learn best when they are doing something they enjoy. Getting the children to set personal goals for next steps can also be beneficial for the children to take ownership over and work towards.
-Maybe have the students more involved in choosing the kind of activities that could be run at school and brainstorm with them themes for inquiry. Have one or two periods per week where the students are responsible to present a theme of their interest where they would have to research, analyse information and present it to the class in a way they chose ( I am thinking for example history and they can do a poster or even chose to do a small play to help them demonstrate their ideas or information…
-I think that Montessori method has a lot to benefit the traditional schools, I do like the idea of the agency implementation and I want to know more about how it is being running at PMPS. It is important as every kid is different and has different interests so for me it make the classroom even more interesting when everyone can contribute with own ideas and learning from each other.

Do you have any other thoughts on the theme of Student Agency?

-Student Agency contributes to the students’ capability to reach their potential, and as a parents, I value this part and wish to make my contribution to support my child’s further development at home. Our school may consider to work with the parents as well. By having the consistence at school and home, our school children are cultivated to continuously develop their sense of agency.
-Its great to see the school making this a focus as it means the children are being more involved in what they are learning rather than having education done to them. This a such an important skill for children to develop for their future learning journey.
-I think critical thinking is very important to be developed since young age and to encourage responsibility in learning ( with some guidance) is a very powerful instruments for the future generation where digital and artificial intelligence are gradually dominating the world.
-More info. to share about student agency.
-It would be good to hear more from teachers on what they are doing on this.
-Not much, I do like the Montessori and also the Teacher authority as a person to guide the kids. As far as I know the NZ school methodology enables the children to grow and develop on their own time and individuality which is in my point of view very important for individuals in the society.