Making a Difference for Teachers

Using the strategies of formative assessment and intentionally changing classroom culture fundamentally changes how teachers understand what it means to teach. In SAAL, teachers learned to serve as facilitators of learning and to develop more trusting relationships with their students. Beyond stating a belief that all students can learn, teachers acted on that belief by changing the classroom environment and routines to convey that trust to the students. These actions empowered the students to own their learning journey and fostered respect for learning as a non-linear, mistake-filled, and fascinating process. Increasing curiosity for learning and opportunities to engage in learning with peers fueled student and teacher agency.


“I have learned that student agency is driven by [students] fully understanding what is expected out of them.”
– Arizona Teacher Participant, SAAL

To support student agency, teachers learned to…


Engage students in developing and reinforcing classroom norms to support a learning culture. Teach students how to reflect on and use evidence of learning. Develop models for effective and continuous use of feedback to guide learning.

Teacher Voices


Understanding Learning as a Process

Teachers shifted from looking for mastery to understanding that each student would make mistakes, learn from them, and learn from one another. This opened the door for teachers and students to expect, plan for, and honor learning as an uneven and sometimes surprising process, and resulted in patience for the learning journey each student is on.


Joy in Teaching

As students develop more awareness of their role in the learning process, teachers saw that they were doing more than teaching content; they were teaching students to learn how to learn – which had a profound impact on teachers feeling that they were seeing their work as having a long-term impact.


Trusting Students to Do the Learning

As students learned skills to move their own learning forward, teachers gained trust that students want to learn for themselves and that they have the motivation, capabilities, and new skills to do so. Teachers gained trust in their students, both for taking on the learning and for taking it beyond what the teachers had originally thought possible.


Changing Teacher Mindsets

“I have learned that my students are more capable than I had been prepared to allow them to be. I think that I got stuck in the ‘lecture’ type of teaching. I have learned that my students are very capable of taking the learning into their own hands and still reach the intended Learning Goals.” “I tend to take over and not trust that my students will reach the conclusions I want them to make. This [experience] helped me see that I can guide them, but they can reach these conclusions and when they do it is more meaningful.” “I think that I am really learning how to teach in a new way, incorporating the students’ peer feedback and student agency so much more into my teaching.”