Element 4: Empowerment

There are 5 Elements to an Agile Classroom. This post will describe the fourth element, Empowerment. Agile Classrooms defines empowerment is the process of enhancing learners’ capacity to make choices towards achieving positive learning and life outcomes (1). When learners are fully empowered in choosing what and how they learn, we say they are self-directed. Self-directedness is not a like a switch, where it is on or off, all or nothing. Rather, choice in learning is a dial that can be appropriately adjusted in increments. Agile Classrooms provides a scaffolded empowerment model composed of four degrees of choice (2). Each degree is adjusted based on the context and the classroom’s self-directedness capacity.


1. Direct
  • Teacher’s Role: chooses for students
  • Student Voice: seeks clarification
  • Student Choice: no influence on teacher’s choice
2. Guide
  • Teacher’s Role: chooses and provides options, considers student input.
  • Student Voice: provide input and feedback
  • Student Choice: influence the teacher’s decision
3. Partner
  • Teacher’s Role: facilitates decision making and may provide some constraints for the choice
  • Student Voice: provide their own ideas, input and feedback
  • Student Choice: students decide together with the teacher
4. Coach
  • Teacher’s Role: asks powerful questions to evoke the student’s thinking in creating their own choices. Teacher may provide some constraints for the choices
  • Student Voice: their ideas, and options
  • Student Choice: students generate and choose their own options without teacher approval

You can download the Empowerment Card Deck at the Agile Classrooms Resources page in two different formats:
1. Letter Sized (8.5 x 11) – Print on one letter sized paper and cut the cards out.2. Index Card Sizes (3×5) – Load up your printer with index cards and print.

Agile Classrooms Empowerment Deck 

(1) Empowerment definition adapted from the World Bank’s Empowerment Framework .
(2) The 4 levels of collaboration is inspired from the work of Dr. Gerald Grow’s ‘Staged Self-Directed Learning’ model

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