Yesterday we ran the first ever T3 - Teacher Think Tank. Educators from five schools came together to Un-think | Re-think | Out-think what student agency means for their students in their context.

It was incredibly powerful to be able to get some fresh ideas and innovate new solutions to the things we grapple with every day in schools. Often I hear teachers battling to manage and find solutions to the following question:

How do we deepen student learning and grow their learner agency as we go? - And keep to the required timeline so we can get through the whole course.

We had teachers from a diverse range of schools.  From traditionally structured approaches of learning to more modern structured approaches to learning.

We started the day with some storytelling. Participants were asked to think about a time when the learning - either their learning or the learning of their students was amazing. They were then asked to share their story with their group.
Stories are a great way to encourage participants to connect to the purpose of the day. To connect to the WHY of the day.
Groups shared their stories with each other and listened to seek understanding of the common themes that existed in each story so that we could leverage the ideas for a deeper understanding of what agentic learning looks like.

Where did we get to with our ideas? 
Well here are a few starter statements - in their first draft and ready for refining.
Student Agency is...

  • Re-claiming the power to act with self-efficacy to drive your authentic learning.

  • Students having a learning lens to have a clear understanding of why, what, how, when, where and who.

However, what it really boils down to is this...
Student agency is about the actions that learners need to take to keep learning happening. Maintaining the process of making connections and the making of meaning to enable learning. To achieve this, learners need to truly know and understand themselves. Learners need to be able to identify WHY they are learning WHAT they are learning and identify what support they need to enable that learning.
Learners who have high levels of agency are able to manage the learning grapple. Agentic learners are able to drive their learning.
If we take the idea of James Nottingham's Learning Challenge and the learning pit, learning isn’t easy. Being in the pit represents being in a state of cognitive conflict.
When students are being challenged, learning encounters an element of "grapple" and a feeling of being stuck. 
Feeling stuck is not a happy place to be if the learner is feeling unsupported, or they don’t have access to the tools in which to build their way out of the “learning pit”. [The provision of said tools is where the teacher comes in].

It is Learner agency that enables students to build their way out of the learning pit. Learning skills and dispositions that enable students to keep the learning going.

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Now the climb out of the I’m stuck zone - of the learning pit - requires any number of skills and dispositions. Some would categorise them as the NZC Key Competencies. 
However, to add the value of the key competencies - I believe Guy Claxton (2018) offers a great piece of clarity around learning and what is needed to be able to keep the learning going.

What is needed to be able to keep the learning going, are dispositions such as curiosity, determination, attention, imagination, analysing, socialising, reflecting and organising. Namely -  Learning Strengths.

Claxton has identified the importance of planning for, and naming, the learning strengths students are engaging with during the different learning strategies they experiencing so as to “build their learning muscles.” - or to grow their learning agency.

Our job must be to turn out young people who love learning so much, and who learn so well, that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned
— John Holt

When students meet tricky stuff, do they feel defeated and shy away, or trot out past solutions that do not really suit the new problem? Or do they roll up their sleeves, take a fresh look, and get stuck in?

That all depends on their level of agency....  next week we will take a look at these levels of student agency and begin to explore what is it that teachers can do to help grow their students learning agency.

Go well with these last couple of weeks of the academic year...

#deepenteacherinquiry #themostpowerfultoolforteacherlearning
#learningculture #change-read tribes #thechemistryoflearning

Claxton, Guy. The Learning Power Approach: Teaching Learners to Teach Themselves (Corwin Teaching Essentials) (pp. 75-76). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
Holt, John (1964). How Children Fail. New York: Pitman.

Nottingham, James A.. The Learning Challenge: How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit to Achieve Deeper Understanding (Corwin Teaching Essentials). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.



Here are two more ways I can help you:
1. Download my White Papers -

  1. Finding your inquiry genius - An exploration of the power of Teacher inquiry to enable teacher learning. - click here

  2. Re-lensing Learning- An exploration of the power of harnessing the power of contribution to enable change. - click here

  3. Teacher Think Tank. - An exploration of the power of collective innovation to un-think | Re-think | out-think for future possibilities in education. - click here

2. Work with me one-to-one

  1. Teacher Inquiry - If you would like to work with me directly to solve challenges with Deepen Teacher Inquiry, reply with the words "teacher inquiry"  and we will arrange a time to discuss your situation and see if we might be a fit.

  2. Teacher Think Tank - Bring the Teacher Think Tank to your school! Build coherence - enable change-ready Tribes and accelerate change in your school. A great way to start the new school year with everyone on the same page and gain the buy-in of strategic goals and actions. If you are keen, reply with the word "Think Tank"  and we will arrange a time to discuss your situation and see if we might be a fit.



I am really excited to introduce a way for teachers and leaders to innovate solutions that are outside the box... check this out - information video and testimonial to be found within.

February 2019

T3 - Teacher Think Tank - STEAM Principals - - Wellington Based Teachers
See my front page for video details on how you can get involved. Including a testimonial from Sally Pendergrast - Rototuna Junior High School

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January 2019

Teaching as Inquiry 101

Auckland Based Teachers


Tabitha Leonard