Cultivating Student Agency

Mike Gilmour, Deputy Principal Early & Primary Years November 23, 2018
Cultivating Student Agency

As a school, we believe passionately about empowering our students to turn their learning within the classroom into meaningful action within their communities. Not only does student action positively influence our world, but it also is an accurate assessment of student engagement and understanding. When we see students wanting to take action, for example, a bake sale to raise money or a beach clean up, it is evidence of an authentic connection the student has made with the learning within the classroom. They have identified a need within the world, and are looking to use the skills they have learned at school to make a difference.

As a school, and as educators, we encourage student action and look to model this for our whole GEMS community on a regular basis.

In addition to identifying student engagement and understanding, action is also the evidence of student agency. Student agency, as described by the International Baccalaureate, is a students voice, choice and ownership. It is the power a student has to influence the world around them and is a mindset that we strive to instil in every student. While the big action projects are wonderful examples of student agency, we also notice student agency in smaller discussions that take place within the classroom every day.

The important thing about student agency is that every student understands that they have a voice and that their voice is powerful.

Every student has agency, they have a voice and opinion on many matters. However, for many students, this sense of ownership has not been given room to develop due to limited opportunities. At GEMS we design each of our units of inquiry in such a way that the students' voice, choice and sense of ownership are integral to our outcomes. For us, this is central to our purpose.


Mike Gilmour
Deputy Principal
Early & Primary Years



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