Sia Mastro Matters Editorial 22 March 2024

“Agency requires the ability to frame a guiding purpose and identify actions to achieve a goal. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices”. (OECD2019)

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the notion of student agency emerges as a powerful catalyst for promoting not only academic growth and success, but also holistic wellbeing. This term, across our diverse pastoral program, there have been lengthy conversations and targeted activities that have focused on building the capacity of our learners to take initiative, make choices and exert control over their learning experiences both in and out of the classroom. As a staff, we recognise that student agency is not a personality trait, but a quality that is malleable and learnable, that relies on motivation, hope, self-efficacy and a growth mindset to navigate towards a healthy wellbeing.

Central to the concept of student agency is the idea of empowerment. When students are empowered to make decisions about their learning, they develop a sense of ownership and autonomy that are essential for fostering wellbeing. In the various Parent Information Evenings earlier this term, my address promoted the importance of student agency in developing resilience and adaptability which are essential skills for navigating the challenges of life and equally, understanding the importance of the ‘soft-skills’ that many psychologists may refer to, otherwise known as the social and emotional learning. As educators and mentors, we recognise the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment that values diversity, promotes positive relationships, and prioritises the mental and emotional health of students.

Two weeks ago, Glen Gerreyn presented to our Year 11 and Year 12 cohorts. He was not only highly engaging but instrumental in communicating the importance of shifting perceptions, challenging thoughts of procrastination and ways to foster intrinsic motivation as a powerful driver of goal setting and achievement. Our students were able to collaborate, reflect and gather feedback on the key take-away messages from the presentation, building a deeper understanding about the ‘power of purpose’, and committing to taking action as a tool to help crystalise their individual prospective goals for the year ahead.

Across the Year 7- 10 Pastoral Program, the areas of focus this term included goal setting for the semester ahead, identifying character strengths and recognising incremental growth through challenge, which students had the opportunity to apply during the various camps. Our hope is to empower students with the tools to be able to take ownership of their learning and wellbeing, with the vision of working towards fostering a culture of lifelong learning that extends beyond the classroom. More broadly, the development of agency through growth mindset is a relational process, that involves positive interactions with family members, peers and teachers over time (Schoon, 2017) that continues to evolve throughout lived and learned experiences.

Sia Mastro
Director Student Wellbeing

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