A principal I worked with years ago used to enter my classroom and sit next to students. He had three predictable questions.
“What are you working on?” he used to ask.
“Why are you doing it?” he’d follow up after the students responded.
“How do you know if you’ve done it well?”
The responses to those questions were sometimes nerve wracking for their teacher (me), but incredibly revealing in terms of agency. Every now and then, a student would respond with, “I don’t know” or “Just my writing.” I would cringe. I really cringed when their reason for doing it had more to do with the assignment than with their interest in telling a story or sharing an idea.
At The Education Hub, Ph.D. student Claire Chuter writes beautifully about the role of agency in education defining it as “the ability to identify valued goals and desired outcomes, and to pursue those goals and outcomes proactively, purposefully and effectively.” In a recent Two Writing Teachers podcast, the discussion between Stacey and me aligned closely with Chuter’s definition. Agency is not compliance where you’re doing what you’re told, and it’s not engagement where you’re doing something and genuinely involved in it. Agency involves working toward something, generally with a goal or intention in mind. Students with agency could answer my principal’s second and third questions with clarity and insight.
This week the co-authors of Two Writing Teachers address various ways to increase students’ agency within their writing lives.
- Stacey will kick off the series with her post on Monday where she writes about the language teachers use to develop agency especially as it relates to conferring.
- Morgan follows on Tuesday as she writes about the importance of choice within topic, genre, and process.
- On Wednesday, Amy writes about picture books that teach and inspire agency.
- Resources within a writing classroom are important for building agency, and Jenna delves into ways to build agency through those tools on Thursday.
- Beth tackles the concept of student self-assessment, reflection, and goal-setting within writing instruction on Friday.
- Sarah’s post on Saturday features how teachers can transfer agency beyond the school setting, so that children identify as writers outside the walls of the classroom.
- Leah will wrap this blog series on Monday, February 13, and announce the winner of the book giveaway!
Don’t miss the opportunity to win a copy of Engaging Literate Minds: Developing Children’s Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Lives, K–3 by Peter H. Johnston, Kathy Champeau, Andrea Hartwig, Sarah Helmer, Merry Komar, Tara Krueger, and Laurie McCarthy by commenting on this intro post or any of the other posts in the series.
- This giveaway is for a copy of Engaging Literate Minds: Developing Children’s Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Lives, K–3 by Peter H. Johnston, Kathy Champeau, Andrea Hartwig, Sarah Helmer, Merry Komar, Tara Krueger, and Laurie McCarthy. Many thanks to Stenhouse Publishers for donating a copy for one reader.
- For a chance to win this copy of Engaging Literate Minds, please comment on any of our blog series posts by Noon EST on Sunday, February 12. Leah Koch will use a random number generator to pick the winner whose name will be announced in the blog series wrap-up post on Monday, February 13. You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter the giveaway.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so Leah can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, our contact at Stenhouse will ship the book to you.
- If you are the book winner, Leah will email you the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – AMPING UP AGENCY BLOG SERIES. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
One thought on “Introduction: Amping Up Agency Blog Series”
I am very excited for this series on student agency! (wouldn’t mind winning the book either 😉
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