Student Agency

During 2015 I was involved in a year long program with NAPP - National Aspiring Principals. Throughtout the year I was supported with my teaching inquiry, professional development opportunities were given and we were all encouraged to lead change within the school.

Aspiring Principals are all about leading change that will impact on the learners within the school. The National 3 day Hui event involved a number academics and experienced educatonalists who all spoke to us about the need to lead change on how we do things to make school a better place for all our students. We also learnt a great deal about why we need to change. This is a reflective post on my teaching inuiry. 

Student agency - giving the students the power to act on their learning.

Inquiry Question

How will our leading of change influence teachers to develop beliefs, practices and habits around developing student agency - giving the students the power to act on their learning.


Develop active learners who can guide their own learning with the knowledge and resources to understand where they are at with their learning, where they have been and where they can go.


  • The learning is visible
  • Students help create the criteria for the learning
  • Students have the opportunity to learn how to become reflective on their learning

My inquiry was a fascinating journey and although the visibility of learning needs a lot of work other exciting developments have spun off from this. I will write more about those in my blog.

Learning Progressions

Part of the learning being visible means that our students need to know where they are, where they have been and where they can go so that they can make decisions about their own learning. Our students are very new to this process and the journey has been challenging to say the least and we are still working on it.

At the beginning of the year the staff wrote our own learning progressions in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. We used the NZC, Literacy Learning Progression’s in student voice, the Literacy Learning progressions and various other resources to help guide us with this. We worked in teams and eventually came up with our own which are still evolving. With the teachers guidance students write their own goals and we frequently review these as needed or as requested by our students.

Next steps for the Learning Progressions: We find these too wordy for the students and will look at rewriting these. We will continue to use these in our student learning conversations and guide the students to use these when reflecting on their learning.

Student voice

Check out the video clip in galleries.

This hasn’t always been as streamlined and as exciting as the video has indicated and we are still changing how we do things but the shift in thinking and the development of student agency is certainly being demonstrated with student’s knowing their goals and identifying workshops they need to go to. I have completed an interview with our target students except it was about 6mins long. I believe that even though they know and they say the same things as what these students know. Getting it out of them was like pulling teeth. I will hold onto this video and do a similar one at the end of 2016 to see if there has been progress.

Melanie Matthews

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