07 Jul 2020
09:30 AM - 03:30 PM
Nurturing learner agency through inquiry
Learner agency has become a central goal of education systems around the world. Supporting learner agency means providing opportunities for students to make decisions about their learning and to build a repertoire of strategies that allow for more independent, thoughtful investigation. Inquiry as an approach to learning is a powerful vehicle to nurture agency as it invites learners to question, problem solve, investigate and act on learning most often in authentic, high-stakes, contexts.
At the heart of the inquiry approach is the belief that learning is, quite simply, something that the learner does – not something that is done to them. Inquiry based teachers work in ways that support the learner to do ‘the heavy lifting.’ When applied thoughtfully, the use of an inquiry approach is all about agency. Inquiry teachers intentionally help learners build transferable skills and dispositions as they investigate questions of significance to them. When the approach is applied to authentic problems or challenges in local and global contexts the agentive dimension of learner identity can be further amplified.
The following questions will guide our learning in this interactive, practical workshop:
- What do we mean by ‘agency’ and what might this ‘look like’ in our students?
- What skills and dispositions enable more independent learning? How do we help build those skills and dispositions across the day?
- How can creating a classroom climate that cultivates curiosity, privileges student questions and uses real world contexts strengthen learner ‘assets’?
- How can the language we use as teachers impact on learner identity? How can we modify teacher talk to support inquiry and amplify agency?
- What does it mean to release responsibility more fully to students as they engage in a journey of inquiry? What does it mean to con-construct learning and assessment opportunities?
- How do we make authentic connections to the curriculum through inquiry?
Nurturing agency can involve a seismic shift in the way we think about ourselves as teachers, the way we see students and the way we see the process of learning itself. This shift doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, experience, conversation and reflection. For many teachers, it is a gradual process of becoming – of letting old ways of thinking, being and doing to give way to new.
Participants in this workshop will leave not only with an expanded repertoire of instructional strategies but with new insights into how they can co-design more powerful learning experiences that also deepen their own sense of agency as a teacher