Increasing the sense of agency in a first grade classroom

Johnson, Larissa Jo
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This report describes a year-long practitioner-research study documenting the challenges and successes of a first grade teacher’s attempt to increase her students’ sense of agency in the classroom. Through the insight gained from my classes in graduate school, I decided to alter my practices into a more child-centered approach. Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, I have documented the reactions to these changes in my students and myself. I have altered my practice in three main areas. These areas include: implementing a project-approach time period in the classroom schedule entitled, “Discovery Time;” taking a supporting role (as opposed to a directing role) in peer-to-peer conflicts that occur in the classroom; and providing students with more of a voice when learning new concepts which enables them to teach each other more than I teach them. Each of these three areas has required me to give up a substantial amount of control in the classroom and reallocate this control to my students in order to allow them more ownership and direction in their own learning and development. This, in turn, has given my students a greater sense of agency in our classroom.