Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some benefits of how student agency can impacr schools and enhance remote learning and teaching. 

• How can school districts intentionally nurture student agency during COVID-19?

• Here are some student perspectives on remote learning during the pandemic. 

With summer and fall planning top of mind for educators across the country, one stubborn challenge is students’ online attendance and engagement—or, precisely, the lack of it. In many schools and districts, half or less of their students participate in remote learning.

Many students are unable to participate virtually due to resource constraints. For those who can, it’s become abundantly clear that grades alone are insufficient to motivate learning.

Take, for example, the distance learning plan created by Chaffey Joint Union High School District in California, which says that schoolwork completed by students through the end of the year can only preserve and improve grades, but not lower them. According to Rocky Bragg, a high school English teacher in the district, this policy has created some havoc. Many teachers watched their students brush off assignments and disappear from class.

The policy is pragmatic, responding to the fact that many students are dealing with stress, trauma and extra family responsibilities that impact their ability to focus on school. But it also illuminates just how little value schoolwork has, from some students’ perspectives, except to feed a grade.

But Bragg has witnessed a different reaction in his classes. He’s consistently seen high attendance in synchronous online classes since the school closed, and almost all his English students submitted the epic poems they’d been working on for the last few weeks.

What’s behind this rare level of engagement during such a traumatic and trying time? One factor is learner agency. As it turns out, nurturing students’ abilities to contribute and lead can have big payoffs as schools face ongoing uncertainty.

Read the full article about student agency by Chelsea Waite at EdSurge.