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June 2019

Feature Article

Personalized learning, student agency, & the stakes of education

We are privileged to live at a time with many resources and technologies that exist to aide educators, but sometimes these advancements can carry an ironic cost: They can be distracting to the basic aims of education. As districts debate over which learning management systems (LMS) are best for their classrooms, the basics behind how learning actually happens can get lost from the forefront of cost-benefit discussions. Promoting student agency, the amount of influence students have over their own life, including their ability to navigate challenges and locate resources for themselves, should remain a focus within the changing trends of education. Read More

Coaching Corner

Student and teacher agency: One district’s reflection on taking action

Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future conducted interviews with teachers and school administrators to understand the disconnect between professional learning that teachers need and want and what they actually experience. One idea that surfaced from the interviews was teacher agency. (Learning Forward) Many districts recognize the important role agency plays in the classroom, both for teachers and students, but are unsure of how to make it happen or how it would play out in the classroom. Read More

Improvement Science in Action

Tests of change lead to meaningful student engagement in mathematics

There is no shortage of professional development (PD) available to teachers, but PD alone is rarely enough to result in a change of practice. When PD is paired with improvement science processes, teachers are afforded the time and support to test and refine instructional practices learned in PD in their own classroom. Read More

Partner Spotlight

Agency and voice: a push for greater equity and what it looks like in math

In her article "Framing Equity: Helping Students 'Play the Game' and 'Change the Game'" (2009), Rochelle Gutiérrez lays out the four key dimensions of equity: Access, Achievement, Identity, and Power, which sit on two axes. Access and Achievement create the dominant axis, and Identify and Power create the critical axis.
Many of our partners in education have been working to secure access to high-quality education for every student to ensure that each of them can achieve. Their efforts often focus on the dominant axis to ensure that students have access so that they can move towards achievement. While work in this area is necessary, the critical axis allows students to see themselves as mathematicians and changers of the world around them. Read More

Content Matters

Focusing on the instructional approach nurtures agency

Many educators name student agency as something they want to work to develop within their schools and classrooms. But what is student agency? And, more importantly, what can we as educators do to foster student agency? To start, we should work from a common definition of agency. The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University defines agency as "the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative […]." In their work they frame agency as being on a continuum from having a sense of agency to expressing agency. Read More

News and Events

An invaluable partnership

Simon Sinek (2009) reminds us to start with why. Why should we change? Why do some classrooms work better than others? Why would teachers follow us? And my favorite, why are we doing what we are doing? There are a variety of responses to these questions, but the relationship with the IFL has continuously helped Guilford Public Schools answer them. Guilford Public Schools in Guilford, CT, first linked arms with the IFL in 2006 as part of the Instructional Leadership Program. Because the suburban district was smaller than most IFL member districts, we had the advantage of involving all principals and district office personnel at the onset. The Principles of Learning provided a common language for all K-12 teachers, and the practice of Learning Walks held us accountable to one another and truly supported learning on the diagonal, incorporating content knowledge with habits of learning. Having this vertical coherence gave the district a clear focus for professional learning and became a part of its mission. Read More

Honoring the past and looking to the future

The LRDC community gathered in late March to honor IFL founder and former director, Lauren Resnick, and current IFL co-director, Lindsay Clare Matsumura, long-time collaborators and leaders in learning.
With thoughtful words and a casual ceremony, LRDC Director Charles Perfetti honored Lauren Resnick for her appointment as distinguished university professor emeritus of psychology and cognitive science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich school of Arts & Sciences. On behalf of the University of Pittsburgh, the Chancellor, and the Board of Trustees, Perfetti recognized Resnick’s 31 years of influential service to the LRDC and her critical contributions to teaching, research, and public service. Read More

NSI celebrates first-year learning in Dallas ISD

On May 16, the Institute for Learning gathered at the Dallas Arboretum with Dallas Independent School District, Pitt’s Center for Urban Education, and LRDC researchers to celebrate the progress made thus far on the Networks for School Improvement project. The project, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks to improve literacy for low-income students. Teams from all 14 participating schools attended, along with principals and executive directors. Many central office staff also attended, including superintendent Michael Hinojosa, chief academic officer Ivonne Durant, and deputy chief of school leadership Jolee Healy. Read More

Bridges To Learning

Research. Practice. Results.

BRIDGES connects educators with knowledge and research that shows every student can learn when provided cognitively challenging instructional opportunities and learning environments can flourish when collaboration is valued, voice is honored, and agency is realized. Download entire newsletter.