In the education arena, agency is expressed in different ways. At Cashmere Avenue, we see it as:
- The power to act.
- From teacher owned to student owned learning.
- The personalisation and co-design of a learning journey.
- Activation of one’s best learning strategies.
The enablement to independently intervene in the learning process when clarity or another pathway is needed.
It requires a classroom culture where learners have the understanding, ability, and opportunity to independently drive the learning, with facilitation from the teacher and collaboration with their peers.
You will hear students be aware of their learning goals, how they will work towards achieving them and hear them prove their new knowledge or skill. You will see our learners use their environment and tools to support this journey. Agency is interwoven with our other approaches of Inquiry, Learning to Learn and Innovation.
Play is Learning
Children of today live in a time of schedules, high achievement expectations and never being bored. Research informs us that play-based learning is important for children’s development of social, emotional and academic competencies which are key indicators of success in active citizenship and mental wellbeing. Our practice of this is a rich demonstration of our inquiry and agency approaches to learning.
What is Play?
The process of play is more important than any end point, goal or item made. A myriad of items can be used to encourage play e.g. a tangle of wool can be a spiders web to climb through, a cloth left lying on the floor can be a magic carpet. These are called provocations, where roles can be trialled, simple items can be manipulated and a conceptual inquiry can begin.
Providing opportunities for play along with some active involvement of adults enables our children to build skills that lay the foundation for academic learning. It provides opportunities to socialise with peers, learn to listen to others, communicate their own ideas, and to negotiate. It encourages children to imagine, categorise, sort and problem solve, whilst also giving children the opportunity to role play aspects of their daily life.
Play at school develops:
- gross motor development (e.g. climbing, swinging, crawling);
- creativity (e.g. block building, painting, crafting);
- numeracy skills (e.g. heavy/lighter, direction, counting, numeral identification, measurement);
- literacy skills: writing/reading/oral (e.g. plastic letters, rhyming games, shopping lists, stories, objects for pretending, songs);
- social skills (e.g. listening, negotiating, collaboration);
- emotional skills (e.g. resilience, growth mindset).
Much of our philosophy on play-based learning comes from the Reggio Emilia Approach: https://www.reanz.org/ Feel free to inquire further with our teachers or by making a time to come and see this learning in action.
An inquiry-based approach to learning is driven by students' curiosity about the world around them. It richly encourages the five capabilities. By allowing students to pose questions that can be used as starting points for personalised learning journeys, children are immersed into learning that is authentic and meaningful to them.
It is a tool that enables teachers to facilitate learning through problem solving, critical thinking, generating ideas and other crucial 21st Century skills. Our recent implementation has been informed by professional learning with Kath Murdoch, as well as inspirations from Lane Clark, Bek Galloway and Design Thinking frameworks.
Advantages to this approach include:
- students having the chance to follow their own passions or curiosity
- learners feel empowered and are more engaged in the learning process
- improving the ability to ask questions for a range of purposes
- developing communication and social skills; helping learners to accept that other people may think differently to them
- deepening their understanding of the process of learning
- allowing students to set personalised goals, being supported towards achieving them and reflecting on their progress and efforts
- students have the chance to enhance research skills to acquire new knowledge
- fostering resilience and perseverance, in order to overcome barriers during inquiries and to complete tasks successfully
- assisting students to become life long lovers of learning through discovery and enjoyment
Kaitiakitanga can be described as guardianship or protection. A kaitiaki is a guardian, keeper, preserver, conservator or protector. The addition of ‘tanga’ denotes preservation, conservation and protection.
Our learning around kaitiakitanga includes:
- exploring environments – water, land, ecosystems, energy, waste, animal and human habitats, transport
- inquiring into the causes and effects of human actions on the natural world
- learning how to take positive actions to stop, reduce, or alter harmful activities on the environment
- active citizenship.
Our aim is to inspire our tamariki to connect with our natural world. All are welcome to join our CASE garden club on Thursday lunchtimes to help us grow a variety of plants, vegetables and fruits.
Our Green Team volunteers meet weekly critically think of ways to improve sustainability at CAS. 2020 is the year we signed up to the Sustainable School scheme organised by the Sustainability Trust. The aim of which is to reduce our school’s impact on the environment. Exploring this approach in a variety of contexts deeply engages our children and our community with our school values and capabilities.
Co-teaching is a form of collaborative teaching, or team teaching, that involves educators working together in the same learning environment to lead, instruct and mentor groups of students, in order to improve learner outcomes for all.
We teach this way for a number of reasons:
- increases in targeted learning for students through more interactions with teachers
- students can access the expertise and interests of more than one teacher
- students have a rich opportunity to for social development with more peers to interact with
- collaborative approach to problem solving the acceleration of achievement
- there’s little lost instructional time. When one teacher has to respond to a pressing need (e.g. an upset child) the other can facilitate the continuation of the learning
- teachers can engage in quality conversations and reflection about their practice in an authentic learning environment on a moment by moment basis
- interpretation of students’ assessment is debated and moderated weekly
- teachers influence each other to increase learner agency. This gives students greater control of their environment, leading to them using high level critical thinking and self-management
- having a wider range of students within the space enables the teachers to group children for their needs more closely, thus helping accelerate their progress
- working together builds collective teacher efficacy (CTE). CTE is ranked as the number one factor positively influencing student achievement in John Hattie’s research.
Our learning environments have been specifically built with acoustic furnishings, break-out spaces to suit children’s learning preferences and soundfield systems that keep the noise levels at an expected level.
Learning to Learn
An aspect of managing self and deeply connected to the approaches of Identity and Agency, Learning to Learn can also be called metacognition. This is the explicit exploration of ways to learn, and discovering what strategies work best for each learner. All learners progress differently and interpret information from the world around them using a variety of strategies. We help children discover different ways of learning and to recognise what works best for them.