Before we discuss agency in our teachers, let’s consider agency in our students. What evidence do we have that we are working to support children, adolescents, and young adults develop and grow in the area of agency? That is, how are we intentionally working to instill growth mindset, resiliency, and relevance in the work our students do everyday? The New Tech Network offers rubrics to measure evidence of agency. Within the vision of school districts, we read about preparing students to be disciplined, adapt, collaborate, and contribute to their world. This, many times, is related to agency.
To what degree do we value agency in our teachers? If we see the importance of these traits in our students, certainly we recognize how agency can positively impact the profession of our teachers. Let’s consider agency in teachers in terms of their professional learning.
Learning Forward shares The Power of Teacher Agency, by Laurie Calvert. The article offers seven actions that district/school leaders can take to improve educator agency, though not avoiding the elephant in the room that creating an effective professional learning system is complex and difficult.
Within Article V: Organizational Transformation of the Visioning Document, we know:
V.c The overall quality of the present teaching force is excellent, and most teachers are capable and willing to take on their new designer role if their sense of moral purpose for entering teaching is honored, and if they are provided relevant development opportunities and a climate and conditions that support them.
In order to achieve this premise, we understand:
Teachers are respected as key decision makers in their professional growth and are meaningfully engaged in determining a learning pathway that is most likely to result in improved instructional skills and capacities for their role as instructional designer and learning facilitator. Teacher professional development opportunities reflect the same type of instruction and learning expected in the classrooms (flexible in time/access, high learner engagement, choice and autonomy when possible, and that leverage the power of digital media and online learning).
Therefore, we look to ways to design professional learning experiences (both short- and long-term) to model the same type of instruction and learning expected in the classroom. Such strategies include making use of digital technologies to transform engagement with the content, flexible learning spaces to improve the physical environment, and choice and autonomy through goal setting and intentional planning.
Need ideas for strategies to implement in the design of professional learning? I recommend you subscribe to The Joy of Professional Learning (linked below), a series of multi-touch books by a group of Apple Distinguished Educators committed to high quality professional learning.
- The Joy of Professional Learning
- The Joy of Professional Learning – The Basics – Part One
- The Joy of Professional Learning – The Basics – Part Two
Ready to dive into a collaborative inquiry model (ask, investigate, create, discuss, reflect) for professional learning? Check out Collaborative Inquiry and Educator Professional Development.