Agency in a Middle School Classroom

Agency in a Middle School Classroom

With the conclusion of the fall trimester on the horizon, it is time to reflect upon the agency of learners in a Woodland classroom. We (your friendly Middle School teachers) espouse a student-centered approach in which students are actively engaged in the learning process. In essence, a student-centered classroom requires the teacher to develop lessons to engage students via cooperative, active, and inductive learning activities. At once we must consider curricular objectives, students' prior knowledge and skills, students' interests and needs, as well as the fact that each student is -- as Margaret Mead says -- "absolutely unique, just like everyone else."

Ah, but what is required of students in such a classroom? What happens when the teacher is expert facilitator and guide, rather than omniscient imparter of wisdom? While teachers strive to foster environments in which students feel empowered by choices and driven by work that matters to them, students face a challenge in the form of agency. In other words, students are asked to take ownership of their learning; the waning weeks of the first trimester provide us all with an opportunity to reflect upon what that means. With that in mind, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do I actively work to improve skills and understanding through practice and effort?
  • Do I actively seek feedback from others in order to revise and improve?
  • Do I actively use a variety of learning strategies that have proven to be successful for me?
  • Do I actively reflect upon my decision-making in regards to my learning?

Students are at the center of our classrooms as well as our community. We are keen to enable student success, and to continue nurturing their awareness of their role in succeeding.

Tim Campbell
Middle School Dean of Faculty