For the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside our county office’s Assessment, Accountability, and Evaluation Unit, as well as some of our teachers, to better understand the principles of agency and personalization. As these are key elements of our district’s vision and mission, it is important to be able to articulate what those principles are, how they manifest in an elementary school classroom, and what impact they have on student learning.
To dive deeper in to these principles, I have been meeting with three teacher hubs to further explore the principles of agency and personalization. Hubs consist of a grade level team at a school site that meet weekly around this topic. By participating in a cycle of Plan, Do, Study, Act, teachers dig in to better understand how the principle they are focused on is developed in, and impacts, their students.
For example, a hub studying student agency might ask:
What is agency? What impact does it have on DMUSD students? What do we want to accomplish?
What common activities will we engage students in to increase agency?
How will we communicate the work, results, and resources to stakeholders?
How will we measure agency?
Each teacher hub meets weekly for approximately 6-8 weeks. During these meetings, teachers discuss articles read on the topic, ideate methods to bring these principles to life in the classroom, and after prototyping those ideas with students, time is spent reflecting and refining the idea. This cycle is repeated as many times as needed in order to gain a deeper understanding of the principle.
In January, the three hubs will convene together to share their findings with each other. Their findings will be documented and passed along to new hubs. The new hubs will then analyze the findings of the group and expand on it within their own time together as a hub cycle.
This is part of a developmental evaluation approach, which is much like the R&D process private sector product development teams use. It allows us to provide feedback about how a major systems change is unfolding; generate evidence for how an innovation may need to change or adapt before taken to scale; and then spreading the resulting ideas/knowledge to have a broader impact.
The idea is that, as the hubs expand, we will reach consensus as to what these principles mean for our students and can then provide districtwide professional learning so that all students, and all teachers, have a common vision and plan moving forward. It’s been an amazing experience to join these teachers on a learning journey. I’m excited to see the results.