Agency As and For Professional Development

Teachers need agency too. I find that any book about teaching that I read right now can just as easily be applied from a leadership perspective about teachers. We need the same empowerment. We need the same freedoms. We need the same trust. Otherwise – we are robots. Bored, stuck robots.

Over the course of the year our staff have been speaking up and asking for different types of PD. There was a general frustration about how we were spending precious time. This week we had 3 days of PD scheduled while students are away for Spring Break before we began our own. A week or two ago, our PYP coordinator put out a Google Doc asking if anyone would like to present, as well as asking for the types of things people would like to learn more about. Being someone who just dives in, I of course signed up to speak about student agency. Yesterday was a day full of learning from one another – it was fantastic!

I struggled for a little while to wrap my head around how I was going to present my workshop. I had read Taryn BondClegg (@Makingoodhumans) going through the same journey of leading a workshop about agency. I had the same belief of trying to get staff to really experience agency while learning about it.

As usual, once the idea hit I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I structured the PD the same way I structured my class. Choose, then act, then reflect… with a little bit of time in the beginning to speak about agency in a broad sense and give the small amount of structure that the teachers needed to know what to do. Handout – Planning and Reflection

This is what the schedule for our session looked like:

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 19.14.23

Participants also had a list of musts, coulds, and shoulds, similar to what my students would have. I usually make these types of lists/agreements with my students, but again because of the “beginner” aspect of the teachers in the workshop (and lack of time) I provided them with the following checklist:

I had barely even started the workshop when our Tech Integrator (sitting in on the workshop) was already emailing me to pick my brain about the process because he wants to use the structure (agency) in his future PD sessions. Win number one!

They did their research for roughly 35 minutes and I made sure to have a bit of an accountability aspect in their “must” list. I also thank Taryn again for sharing her list of resources with me to share with the staff as an option for their research. We also started to curate our own list (voice and ownership)!

Teachers shared with their grade levels (I had to cut them off) and then I showed them how I interpret student agency and the journey I have been on with my class (you can see our iterations of planning, class routines, class responsibilities, and more on my blog). The previous day, in a hopes and fears sharing exercise, I had told them that a fear of mine was that they would think I was trying to tell them what to do. I made it very clear that I wanted them to take things away as bits of inspiration (hopefully) to adapt and use as they might see fit for their own class. If I had different students, the routines we have really might not look the same way as it does right now. I wanted to be sure that they knew I wasn’t expecting them to take away exactly at I was doing and replicate it. This is also why I got them to research examples of agency before I shared my own experiences.

Ideally, I would have loved to have my class there to explain our routines themselves. Being Spring Break, I settled for making and showing a video of my class routines and then I spoke a little more about workshops. This turned into a section of Q&A I really didn’t expect or plan for, but could feel their need and want for it. We then did personal reflections about what they could start implementing for themselves, as well as identifying what ATLs they used during that session and that was that!

Except I hope it isn’t! I have had incredible feedback from them as well as “second hand compliments” from teachers who weren’t even in the workshop. I have received emails of thanks, and “complaints” that people can’t stop thinking. Yes!! Mission accomplished, I think! People are thinking… hopefully adapting… hopefully diving in…

I already plan to make Student-Led Conferences a similar experience for parents with their children at the end of this month. The structure of choose, act, reflect really fits nicely with the day and I am looking forward to it.

As Taryn would say, “The medium is the message.”

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 09.02.17

Adapted from my post originally written on http://innovativeinquirers.weebly.com on March 28, 2018.

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3 thoughts on “Agency As and For Professional Development

  1. Hey! I have been using Must Do/Can Do in the classroom! I like the Must, Should, Could a little better! Any chance you’d care to elaborate how this looks in the classroom? Particularly the should part?

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    • Sure! I have written about it on my blog here http://innovativeinquirers.weebly.com/blog/iterations-in-planning-for-student-agency and there are other posts on there which may assist you as well. It is constantly changing. Right now the class decided that the “shoulds” should be split, so on week A we have some shoulds and week B we have other ones. The idea originally is that they should do a should every other week… but that is definitely proving to be too much so it has kind of morphed into a “next priority” type thing, if that makes sense? Let me know if you have any more questions about how it is changing with my students.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Student Agency Resources | Educator Voices

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