In my work with the Next Generation Leadership Academy, we focus on six “critical attributes” which were identified by the Chief Council of State School Officers. Student Agency is one of those attributes, and it is defined as follows:
The expectation that students will develop to direct and own their learning and assume responsibility for themselves and their communities. Student agency is both a means to college and career readiness and a competency that is part of being a college and career ready individual.
Student choice and voice are certainly part of student agency, but this definition includes student responsibility as a key component. When thinking about student agency, the amount of student ownership could certainly vary widely. I’ve categorized a couple of possible examples of student agency from mild to wild. The wild ideas are certainly a bit more challenging to implement!
- Let students take responsibility for how they will share their learning with you. Create a rubric that clearly identifies learning goals and guidelines. Students can then choose the medium to demonstrate their knowledge. That might be a report, blog, video, podcast, prezi, song, or presentation. It could also be a medium unfamiliar to you. The success of this project will be dependent on your rubric!
- Have students create a plan for creating a positive digital presence for your school. Allow students to implement that plan!
- Share end of unit objectives with students. Allow students to create their own learning plan that must include a demonstration showing that they have mastered the content. The plan should also include the steps students will use to gain that knowledge. This would certainly be easier in some courses than others!
- Give students freedom each week to explore a topic of their choosing. I recently finished Daniel Pink’s book Drive which highlighted the successes many companies have had with allowing employees to explore a topic of their own choosing.