DigiLit Sunday: Agency begins with responsibility


DigiLit Sunday is hosted by Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche.  Today, she asks us to consider the word “agency”.


Among the big stack of professional reading I did over the summer, was Upstanders by Harvey Daniels and Sara Ahmed.  I was drawn to the work illuminated by the book – growing empathetic and socially responsible young citizens even as we seek to teach them about reading, writing, science, and math.  And, I loved Sara’s “soft starts” to her day, described this way:

When we come in, we have to get in “the Zone” right away. That means our bodies and minds are focused and ready to take on the day. The same way we get ready before a big game or a performance, our actions show we are ready to be our best selves.

We began our new school year with a soft start, both in my morning as well as in my afternoon blocks: five to ten minutes of quiet, get “in the Zone” time.   This will, I am sure, help my students gain a sense of agency in their learning lives.  That is my my hope, but the truth is that we are getting there slowly.  We are learning that agency begins with responsibility – to our classmates, and to our selves.  And this is proving to be a harder lesson than I had anticipated.

We are learning that a soft start is not….

an opportunity to goof off

time to finish off disagreements begun in the lunch room

time to begin new disagreements

the chance to play

the moment to begin wrangling for the best comfy reading chairs in the classroom.

Agency begins with responsibility…and we are still learning about that.



6 thoughts on “DigiLit Sunday: Agency begins with responsibility

  1. What I love most about these posts is that we all have just a bit of a different view. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that it begins as you say with responsibility. How do you, the learner, get ready for that soft start? What are YOU responsible for?

  2. I HEAR you! I’m trying the same centering practices with my sixth and seventh graders at the beginning of each English block this year and am having the same issues seriously? A seat in the rocker means that much to them? Tomorrow, I had planned to start class with a conversation about learning ownership. It was perfect to read that I am not alone in my struggles to do the right thing I read about grit being the most important asset a student can possess, but we teachers need it, too Tomorrow starts a new week- one more chance to fight the good fight. Love your blog

  3. I am so glad to read this today. I feel like I am a failure at the soft start thing. I have good intentions, but… Yes, responsibility. I need to give this over to the kids. Aha moment. It’s not my soft start. It is theirs. Time for them to own it!

  4. This reminded me of something Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish educator, said (as paraphrased by me): Accountability is what happens when responsibility fails. If we’re all responsible, we can trust the soft start!

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