Those of us who question the IB are actually being more 'IB' than those of us who just follow - so in that light .... here goes ....
What Is Agency?
1.INTENTION (e.g. a problem to solve, a question to answer or a task to achieve)
2.SELF EFFICACY (the belief you can achieve your intended goal)
3.FORETHOUGHT (e.g. goal setting, planning, predicting & anticipating possible challenges and adapting accordingly)
4.SELF REGULATION & REFLECTION (self checking, self managing, readjusting etc.)
There is also an extrinsic factor:
5.A SUPPORTIVE SOCIAL CONTEXT
The Pre-Schooler Example
So let's take a preschooler with agency. His desire is to button up his own cardigan (intention). He believes he can do it (self efficacy). He plans where he is going to put his fingers and thinks ahead anticipating how the button might move as he pushes (forethought). He self-regulates adjusting his stance as he tries and fails (self regulation & reflection). His dad (his social context) watches but doesn't intervene. Finally (pop) he pushes the button through his button hole. He has agency!
The Learner Driver Example
Let's take a learner driver. His intention is to pass that driving test (intention). He believes he can do it (self-efficacy). He plans when he will take the test and predicts how many lessons he needs with a driving instructor. He asks his friends where the test routes are and coaxes his dad to take him on additional driving lessons around those likely streets and lanes. He books an instructor and persuades his dad to buy him ten lessons: the same number his mate Chris took for him to pass (forethought). His dad (his social context) is prepared to take him for additional lessons. He listens to feedback and self adjusts. He reads his 'Highway Code' diligently each evening and self regulates his speed and actions accordingly (self regulation & reflection). He is full of agency!
The Need to Measure Agency to Become an 'Agentive' School
How Might we Measure Agency?
Another effective method of making an intention clear to everyone is to deconstruct the success criteria. Perhaps the IB could create (optional), ready made agency success criteria and asks schools to discuss and deconstruct them collaboratively. By 'deconstruct' I mean discussing what a particular description of agency would look like in one's own classroom or staffroom context (for example). This way teachers and leaders would have clear, tangible intentions and be able to engage in forethought, self regulation and reflection. This in turn would build schools' self-efficacy (the belief that they do have the capacity to become more agentive organizations!). Supportive social contexts such as allocating meeting time to deconstruct these success criteria, and or facilitating professional learning communities (for example) would also have to be provided by the school. Encouragement from school leaders and methods such as showcasing successful agency in action will build understanding, confidence and self efficacy.
Here are some examples of student agency success criteria to get the conversation going. Perhaps these and/or others could be set in a rubric / continuum. Perhaps there would be a different continuum for teachers?
- I can choose my own resources
- I can access my own resources
- I can explain the question I am investigating
- I can describe what my finished product or performance will look when it is a success
- I can explain what I do not understand about ‘......’ yet
- I can explain what I am investigating
- I can voice my opinion
One Last Plea
Primary School Principal
Tokyo International School
Weibell, C. J. (2011). Principles of learning: 7 principles to guide personalized, student-centered learning in the technology-enhanced, blended learning environment. Retrieved July 4, 2011 from https://principlesoflearning.wordpress.com