My kids aren’t ready for more agency!

or is it me that’s not?

Kate Friedwald  |  Nov 2020

Do you have kids in your class who struggle to manage responsibility for a pencil, keeping a space tidy or finishing a task on time?  Are you fed up every day by some of the question’s you are asked that could easily be answered themselves?  If so, you have probably steered clear of giving your kids more agency/choice in the classroom.  They aren’t ready for that you think.  There is no way they could manage that responsibility.  So you stick to the safe routine of rotation or tumble charts, maybe lots of whole class learning or rigid daily tasks.

It reminds me of back in 2013 when I was setting up a 1-to-1 BYOD iPad pilot.  I had a parent question how the kids (Year 5/6) would manage looking after an iPad when they can’t even look after their school jumper.  You know what though?  They managed it bloody well!  Out of a class of 32, there was 1 cracked screen all year, ONE, which didn’t even happen at school. Maybe half to a dozen instances of iPads that were forgotten to be brought to school or brought in with low battery.  We are talking over the whole year.  They DID manage their own iPads and they even got better an looking after their school jumpers.

Anyway back to the agency in your class.  Did the kids in your class go to daycare? kindy? Kohanga?  Back at this young age, our kids were given agency in their learning.  Is their play-based learning in your junior school?  Yep that too, heaps of agency in what they learn, when they learn it and how they learn it.  At some point in the education system, we traditionally decide to take away this agency and feel our learners need to do what we, as teachers, say when we say it and how we say it.  If they can’t do that, how can they do it for themselves, right?

Wrong!  What we are doing is taking the opportunity of agency away so they basically sit and wait.  Waiting to be told what to do next and how to do it.  Is this what happens in society and in the workplace?  Is this what you want for your learners?  I think not.


The interesting thing is that once you change your mindset from “they aren’t ready” to “they can do it and they will do it”, amazing things happen.  Following the implementation of my Give it a Go Freebie in which I provide you with everything you need to give increased agency a go, I received this feedback.

“The children surprised me with how focused they all were. My students who struggle to stay on task coped very well with it”

I ask you this. How can we expect kids to rise to the challenge if we don’t give them the opportunity to do so?  Basically, they are ready, It is you, the teacher, who may not be. Yes, they will need guidance and how much will depend on how long they have spent learning under a predominantly teacher-led setup.

How you go about this is the next question.  My online digital course, Ditch the Tumble will support you with everything you need to get started with agency in your classroom.

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