#56 – Empower Students to Accelerate Learning

Unpacking Education September 8, 2021 26 min

At the start of an academic year, we know that our students will return to us after the summer break with some gaps in their learning. The approach that we recommend to engage students in the learning process is to think about how we might accelerate learning, which emphasizes a proactive and positive mindset. One way to accelerate learning is to make sure that our students feel empowered throughout their learning process.

Join us this week as we discuss how to develop a student-centered approach to accelerate learning and develop opportunities to foster student agency. Our special guest, Danielle Reyes—an 8th grade language arts, social studies, and AVID Elective teacher—returns to share her insights and best practices for developing scaffolds to help students organize their learning, while also providing opportunities for students to inform the time and pace of their learning process.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

Student agency is ownership. It is command. An active process of engagement and authority over your learning. Teachers must deprivatize education for students to own it. Teachers must be coaches and facilitators and open the classroom floor up to the students. It can never be about covering a subject.

Keisha Rembert, the 2019 History Teacher of the Year in Illinois

Growth Mindset and Student Agency: Creating a Student-Centered Classroom

How do we help our students become lifelong learners, where they are curious and consistently open to exploring new challenges and finding solutions that have a positive impact on others?

Our team shares strategies to help teachers create a classroom where student voice and choice empowers them to own their learning process and instills within them the confidence to tackle rigorous coursework, the willingness to learn from failure, and the self-motivation to achieve their goals.

We discuss how we might shift our classroom philosophy from compliance and engagement to empowerment. This is not, however, to disregard the importance of compliance and engagement. Our students will need to follow certain protocols and procedures, and we will certainly want them to be engaged in their learning.

But as George Couros—a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching, and learning—points out, there’s an important difference between engagement and empowerment: “Engagement is more about what you can do for your students. Empowerment is about helping students to figure out what they can do for themselves.” This description identifies the significant shift from a teacher-centered approach to learning to one that’s student-centered.

In this episode, we explore the following questions with Danielle:

  • How do you define student agency, and what does it look like in your classroom?
  • What tips do you have for teachers to help foster student agency in their classrooms?
  • How can we build student confidence in their learning process?
  • What success skills do students need to own their learning and be academically successful?
  • How do we provide student-driven learning opportunities that are also rigorous?

Rigor without support is a prescription for failure. Support without rigor is a tragic waste of potential.

Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID Founder

Extend Your Learning