I know that there are many agencies launching for real this term. I thought I would put together some tips from my Term 1 experience.
1) Take it slow, spend time building up belief in agency.
2)When first starting in agency proper, make planning simple, aim to follow the sequence, but don't overplan. Put more emphasis on the drama of agency. Take time for children to learn their agent numbers and to develop their 'character.' Make a big deal of the fact that they are held in such high regard by Head Agent and have been selected because they are experts in their field. This elevation to expert will be a real change in mindset for some and is one of the most empowering things of a Mantle of the Expert approach.
3)Take time to set up the narrative and ritual of moving into agency, this will be the same each day and helps children to move into agency. For example in our class we will say "and so Room One stood up, and checked into agency" They will then push the buzzer and come into the class as agents...whatever you do, make it the same ritual every day. The addition of our agent chant has been a great one this year.
4)Ensure Head Agent has a strong role in agency. He is the main 'client' within this mantle and plays an important role in helping children believe in their role. He gives our role and the maths a real authenticity. Head agent may be in your company via voki, however he does not have to be, he can come in as a still image like a photo, or in the form of an email or letter.
5)The problem solving process will be difficult to start with. Be prepared to scaffold children a lot. Set easier problems if needed. Start with just one strategy, to start with we just started with drawing the problem. Encourage them to have a go by themselves on their own first, then to share with the others. If you have an able agent, encourage them to solve it in different ways. Spend time setting up the talk moves...this is hard to start with, we start by focusing in on, I think the answer is...and this is how I solved it....then we work on encouraging children to say whether they agree or disagree. Later on you can begin to let Cowgirl Calculation (or whomever is leading this) begin to develop further talk moves as appropriate.
6)When introducing a new gadget, make a big deal about it....for example when children are delivered their i-pads there may be a note from Head Agent that goes with it.
7)Don't introduce everything at once....gauge how agents are ready. We still have not got our tool boxes because our agents are not quite up to being able to select an appropriate tool for problem solving when given too much to choose on. Currently our agents just have a bag of counters and their i-pad (whiteboard) We will make a big deal about tool boxes when they are finally delivered.
8)Take time to develop a villain....I spend at least a week on one villain and having the map this year has been a fantastic addition to agency. Use the villain to develop maths language. You will find children begin to recognise these villains quite quickly based on the problems the clients encounter.
9)When you start, plan day to day...have a week planned, but change it if needed based on what the agents did that day and how they responded. Don't overplan...be prepared to just go with it...if something is going well, just keep going and leave some of the other things you had planned. Just use your gut.
10)Focus in on visual based maths for professional development. I have made a bit of a starter resource here based on what I do. These are crucial for developing number sense and will allow children to develop independence quite quickly.
11)Make a few professor videos if you have time focusing in on some of the professional development you want to run. Allowing him to lead it in this way will allow you freedom to rove and support agents rather than having to lead it.
12) As much as possible use elevated language. You are a lead agent who has been recognised for your leadership abilities...while you are 'equal' in agency, you are certainly an expert in your field.
13) Be prepared. I use my secret file box a lot. I print my plan out and put in in my secret files folder, sometimes this sits on my lap. I put any files I will need that week in a manila folder in the box so they are easily accessed. I put the puppets that will make an appearance on that day in the box. Before a puppet appears I will ask the agents to shut their eyes and count backwards from ten. This is our ritual for a character appearing. The agents have actually made up sounds to go with the villains....when we have worked out the villain for the day I will say "can you hear that?" They will then start making the sound they have made up for them....swishing sound for the shark, laugh for the witch, galloping hooves for the Knight.
14) Most importantly....this will feel strange for a while....don't worry about it....give yourself time to adjust. Children will notice the difference straight away and will start to really engage in this playful approach. If a session doesn't go quite the way you wanted it, don't worry, just as you would with any other maths sessions, reflect on it and move on. Remember this is new to the children too, while you know what you want it to look like, it will take time to get there. Agency for me has evolved over time, and it will for you. Make agency your own and go for it, it will be worth it!
- Number Agents in a Nutshell
- Mantle of the Expert
- Children and Numbers - My Belief
- What is in the book?
- Learning Through Play
- How to order
- The Villains and The Heroes
- A sample of one days planning filled in
- Teachers Pay Teachers Store
- Sample weekly planner format
- My PDF Products - Available on TPT or Teachers Helping Teachers
- What I love about Number Agents!