Co-written by Nicole and Tammy
We had the privilege of writing this piece for Naomi Church of Growing Minds Consulting, which was featured on her blag last week. We wrote this piece as a bridge between our areas of expertise - learner agency and Universal Design for Learning. The ultimate goal of UDL is to create expert learners who are purposeful & motivated, resourceful & knowledgeable, strategic & goal directed. We can only start and assist learners along their journeys by giving them agency and ownership over their own learning. Isn’t that what we want for our students - for them to become critical thinkers and problem solvers to prepare them for careers in the future work force?
In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, it has become crucial to recognize and nurture learner agency. Gone are the days of passive learning, where students were mere recipients of knowledge. Instead, empowering students to take an active role in their learning journey has emerged as a transformative approach. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of learner agency, its significance in education, and the reasons why providing students with opportunities to practice agency in the classroom is essential.
Understanding Learner Agency - Learner agency refers to the capacity of students to make choices and take ownership of their learning. Students have the voice and choice to set goals, and the responsibility to make decisions, making them active participants in the learning process. By fostering learner agency, educators encourage students to become self-directed learners, responsible for their own growth and development.
Encouraging Intrinsic Motivation - When students have opportunities to have agency to construct their learning, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to learn. By allowing them opportunities to construct their learning; ie. to choose topics of interest, design projects, and set personal goals, educators tap into their natural curiosity and passion. This intrinsic motivation fuels a deep sense of engagement beyond mere compliance, making learning more enjoyable and meaningful for students.
Developing Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills - Learner agency promotes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for success. When students have agency, they are presented with opportunities to identify challenges, analyze information, and generate innovative solutions. They may even discover problems others haven’t thought of. This process keeps learners actively thinking and constructing knowledge.
Fostering Independence and Autonomy - Providing students with opportunities to practice agency nurtures their independence and autonomy. By making decisions about their learning, students become more self-reliant and develop a sense of responsibility. They learn to manage their time, set priorities, and take ownership of their successes and failures. These skills are invaluable for lifelong learning and personal growth.
Enhancing Creativity and Self-Expression - Learner agency encourages creativity and self-expression. When students have the freedom to explore and experiment, they can unleash their creative potential. Whether it's through choosing presentation formats, pursuing alternative approaches, or expressing ideas in unique ways, agency allows students to showcase their individuality and develop a sense of identity as learners.
Cultivating a Growth Mindset - Learner agency nurtures a growth mindset in students. By encouraging them to take risks, embrace challenges, and learn from setbacks, educators help students develop resilience and a belief in their ability to learn and improve. With agency, students understand that mistakes are valuable opportunities for growth, and they become more willing to persist and persevere.
Learner agency is a powerful educational concept that empowers students to become active, self-directed learners. By providing opportunities for students to practice agency in the classroom, educators can unleash their potential, foster intrinsic motivation, develop critical thinking skills, and cultivate independence. As we adapt our teaching practices to meet the needs of our students, embracing learner agency is not only important but also imperative for preparing students to thrive in a complex and ever-changing world. Let us prioritize learner agency and create classrooms where students take the reins of their education, paving the way for a brighter future.
In the world of education, simplicity can be a rare commodity. Teachers often find themselves overwhelmed with a multitude of tasks, responsibilities, and objectives. Amidst this chaos, Christine and I came up with a type of beacon of clarity known as the Triple P Funnel, a powerful concept that forms the foundation of our book and offers a practical approach to simplify and streamline the complex world of education.
The Triple P Funnel: Purpose, Priority, Paring Down
So, what exactly is the Triple P Funnel, and why is it crucial for educators? The Triple P stands for Purpose, Priority, and Paring Down. These three essential elements serve as guiding principles to help educators navigate the challenges they face daily.
1. Purpose: The overarching question we should always ask is, "What are we doing here?" Purpose is about understanding the true meaning and significance of our actions in the context of education. It's about defining our goals and objectives clearly, ensuring that every task and decision aligns with this central purpose.
2. Priority: Once we have a clear sense of purpose, the next step is to identify our priorities. Priorities may vary depending on one's role and specific goals, and they can change over time. It's essential to recognize and focus on the most critical tasks and objectives that contribute directly to fulfilling our purpose.
3. Paring Down: Paring down is the process of eliminating unnecessary distractions and tasks that do not align with our purpose or priorities. It involves decluttering our professional lives, streamlining our workflow, and staying laser-focused on what truly matters.
Why the "Triple P"?
You might wonder why we chose to call it the Triple P Funnel and if we really need more educational jargon. The answer is that this framework is not jargon; it's a practical and intuitive way to approach complex challenges in education. The Triple P Funnel provides a visual representation of how purpose, priority, and paring down work together to simplify and streamline the decision-making process.
The Urgent-Important Matrix
In the education world, everything often feels urgent, making it challenging to identify priorities. To address this, we introduce the Urgent-Important Matrix. This simple tool helps educators categorize tasks into four quadrants:
**Urgent and Important**: Tasks that require immediate attention.
- **Important but Not Urgent**: Tasks that are significant but can be planned and scheduled.
- **Urgent but Not Important**: Tasks that demand immediate action but don't contribute to long-term goals.
- **Neither Urgent nor Important**: Tasks that can be safely eliminated or delegated.
By using this matrix, educators can focus their efforts on the tasks that fall into the "Urgent and Important" category, ensuring that they are always aligned with their purpose and priorities.
Applying the Triple P Funnel Across Education Domains
Let's explore how the Triple P Funnel can be applied to various aspects of education:
1. Decluttering Physical Spaces: When organizing classroom or workspace, educators can start by defining the purpose of each area. Then, they determine the priorities for items and furniture within that space, finally paring down unnecessary items that do not serve their purpose or priorities.
2. Decluttering the Curriculum: Educators can evaluate the purpose of their curriculum and assess whether it meets the needs of their students. Prioritizing essential components and removing non-essential elements ensures that the curriculum aligns with its purpose effectively.
3. Assessment Strategies: Purpose-driven assessment begins by asking, "What do we want to assess, and why?" Once the purpose is clear, educators can establish priorities for assessment methods and tasks, ultimately paring down assessments to focus on meaningful outcomes.
In the complex world of education, the Triple P Funnel offers a valuable framework for educators to simplify their decision-making processes. By constantly revisiting their purpose, identifying priorities, and paring down unnecessary tasks, educators can stay focused on what truly matters and make a significant impact on student learning. The Triple P Funnel is not just another piece of educational jargon; it's a practical tool that can transform the way educators approach their roles, making their work more purposeful and effective.