Striving for Independence

In the Te Mihi team, one of our main goals is to develop student agency.

Student agency is defined as when students “take ownership of and responsibility for their learning. And, they possess the skills to learn independently, without heavy dependence on external structures and direction” (Garrity, J. 2015). By developing student agency we are striving to adequately prepare students for further education and life.


Learning Journey Version 1 Must Do


Learning Journey Version 1 Can Do


Learning Journey Version 2 Scaffold

A way in which we develop student agency in Te Mihi is by having a Learning Journey. The Learning Journey is a document that includes a range of learning tasks that are linked to a variety of learning objectives in the New Zealand curriculum. Every fortnight the Te Mihi teachers come together to design new exciting and engaging must do and can do learning tasks. In Te Mihi we recognise that students are at different stages in their journey to becoming a self-regulated learner. Therefore our learning journey is structured in two different ways. One way we structure it is by giving students an option of a few learning tasks they can do throughout the morning and a few more in the afternoon. This helps to scaffold students who require more structure initially.


Marshall with his mini golf course he designed and found the perimeter and area of as part of his maths learning journey task


Arion publishing his haiku poem using google docs


Room 8 students working on different learning journey tasks independently and in groups

The goal is for these students to develop the ability to be able to choose an activity from a larger range without being directed by a teacher. The second way we structure the learning journey is for those students that are further along in their journey to becoming a self-regulated learner. In this learning journey, students are able to choose what learning tasks they want to do and when. Throughout the day when not taking part in teacher workshops, students do their learning journey tasks. The only condition is that they must complete all must-do tasks before they start on can do tasks. Some tasks are independent, while others require students to work in pairs or groups. Each learning task is designed to purposefully cater to different curriculum levels and students are given choices of how they would like to present their learning tasks. The students must prove that they have completed the task before having it signed off by the teacher.


Layne working out the area of his mini golf course he designed


Lucy Addison Xavier and Lucas work as a group to build the tallest tower using string skewers and a marshmallow as part of their learning journey

When asking students in Room 8 what they thought about the learning journey they said …

It’s perfecto! You get to choose fun activities you want to do. – Petra Hutton


Tautari Stacey Petra and Chase work as a group to build the tallest tower using string skewers and a marshmallow as part of their learning journey

I like doing the challenges, the hard tasks. - Leila McIntryre

It’s extremely fun because you get to choose what tasks you do. – Lucas Hill

You learn to work independently - Chelsy Harris

You don’t need to ask the teacher you can look at your learning journey to see what to do next - Arion Craig


Lucy Carly and Addison practice the moves to the water cycle dance


Lucy Carly and Addison practicing the water cycle dance

The learning journey provides students with the opportunities to make choices, develop time and task management skills, work in a variety of different learning situations, and ultimately develop independence. Research shows that “learners who own their learning and feel some control over their school lives quite naturally begin to develop the skills necessary to become independent learners. They begin to set goals, make decisions about what they need for their learning, and share responsibility for constructing a learning path. They start to monitor their own progress and assess outcomes of their learning. They collaborate with peers and can learn effectively both by themselves as well as in groups. Independent learners are driven by a sense of curiosity and a need to understand and make sense of the world. They are able to meet learning challenges by employing a variety of strategies, approaches, and resources” (Garrity, J. 2015).


Te Mihi students programme spheros for their mini golf courses


Te Mihi students attempt tp programme sphero to go under tunnel on mini golf course

Throughout the year we will strive to continue on our journey towards becoming successful self-regulated independent lifelong learners.


Garrity, J. 2015. Ownership and Independence - The Keys to Learner Agency.

Key Words

Student Agency, Independence, Ownership.

Image 6 Room 8 students working on different learning journey tasks independently and in a groups2