How to Start an Agile Classroom: Start Small & Start Safe.

Implementing an agile approach to education can seem intimidating, but it can bring numerous benefits for students and teachers. If you’re considering integrating real future-ready skills, this article will share some tips on starting an Agile Classroom without getting overwhelmed. Here are a few ways to start that are small and safe.

  1. Clubs and electives: If you’re just starting with agile, consider starting with lower-stakes opportunities like clubs or electives. This will give you a chance to test out the approach and get a feel for how it works before diving into more core subjects.
  2. Try it with staff first: Another option is to try agile with school operations or professional learning communities (PLCs). This can build staff confidence and allow you to iron out any kinks before introducing it to the wider school community. 
  3. Pilot it with one class project: If you’re ready to try agile in your classroom, consider starting with a one-off project. The project must be long enough so you can go through a few Learning Sprints. For your first go, we suggest a Learning Sprint length of one to two weeks long. Short sprints allow you to pilot the framework and iterate between each Sprint.
  4. One piece at a time: Start with one component of Agile Classrooms at a time. We have found the following order helps many educators.
    • Create clarity by making learning visible. Use tools like the Learning Canvas and the Learning Alliance. Clarity is the foundation you build an Agile Classroom.  For some educators, just making a visible classroom is sufficiently beneficial.
    • Next, establish a regular cadence of Agile learning routines. Consistent procedures are essential for any classroom, but they become even more crucial when teaching students to be more independent and collaborative. There are five Agile learning routines to choose from, and you can start by introducing just one at a time. Many educators find that the Retrospective or the Check-In routine is an excellent place to begin.
    • As you grow more comfortable with these routines, you can start adding more collaboration into your class. Begin with students working independently and gradually increase the level of cooperation, using the Spectrum of Collaboration as a guide.
    • Finally, you can start adding more student choice to each Agile Learning Routine. Start by instructing and modeling the Routines, and gradually increase the level of choice for students. It’s important to push yourself and your students a little outside of their comfort zones but not to the point where things become chaotic. Use the Spectrum of Choice to help you find the right balance.
  5. Learn: Before diving fully into an agile classroom, you must do your homework and familiarize yourself with the principles and practices of agile education. Resources like the Agile Educator Guide and the Agile In Education Compass can help.

Agile in your classroom can positively transform the way students and teachers approach learning, promoting collaboration, creativity, and a focus on continuous improvement. By starting small and gradually building up, you can introduce agile education in a safe and minimally disruptive way, ultimately creating a more dynamic and engaging learning environment. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and test the waters before diving in headfirst. Start small, start safe, but most importantly,  just start.

P.S. Join our Certified Agile Classrooms Teacher livestream course on February 4th-5th to learn from expert Agile Classrooms Guides. We typically work with schools directly for workshops, so this is a rare opportunity to participate in a public class. These courses are highly engaging and provide valuable insights you can apply immediately to your school. Take advantage of this chance to learn from someone who has walked down the path before.

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