My aim is to develop agency by providing a personalized learning experience for each child. When teachers talk about agency they often discuss voice and choice but true agency should also focus on ownership. By the end of the year, I want my students to own their choices. Like me, I want them to continually strive to improve.
Using a strength based approach the classroom is built around what each student knows and loves. They learn that everyone has strengths and can help each other learn. Students create weekly schedules in which they can sign up to lead or attend workshops on different topics. It is not uncommon to have a student teaching another student how to write a good introduction to her narrative story and the next session the learner and teacher switch roles and now the former student is teaching her friend about fractions.
The students are also very aware of what they still need to learn and where they have improved. They set goals based on this knowledge. In my classroom no one is placed in the “low reading group” or the “high math group”. Through conferencing, feedback and self reflection the students choose appropriate weekly learning goals and reflect on what topics they need to spend more time on in order to meet their goals. They then sign up for workshops that they need support with or that they are excited to learn about.