Dec 7, 2012

ABLE Guide: Roles

This is a work in progress as I develop the The Self-Organizing Classroom - A Quickstart Guide to Agile Based Learning Environments

Please email or comment your feedback so I can make this as educator-friendly as possible. 


ABLE provides 3 roles in the classroom; (1) the ABLE Teacher, (2) the ABLE Facilitator, and (3) the Learning Team. Each has distinct responsibilities that interlock and balance one another to enable self-organization. It is important to not only understand the roles and responsibility, but, most importantly the classroom's journey in actualizing the roles.When the roles are fully actualized, a self-organzing classroom emerges, full of engagement, collaboration, creativity, and focus.

ABLE Teacher
  • Responsibilities:
    • orders and adapts the classroom  backlog based on the current realities of the classroom
    • develops and communicates clear learning outcomes and assessment criteria
    • ensues the learning backlog is highly visible to the classroom and other classroom community members at all times.
    • owns the "Empowerment Dial" and the "Empowerment Board"
    • assesses the learning outcomes
    • creates a learning environment that fosters creativity, empowerment, collaboration, and engagement
    • establishes learning teams that leverages diversity of strengths and perspectives
  • Characteristics:
    • finds joy in being surprised of emergent and novel approaches when empowering students to develop their own way to achieving a learning outcome
    • embraces a "growth mindset" for the classroom, each students, and herself
    • belief that students will be responsible, if given opportunities to make their own decisions
    • ability to articulate learning goals clearly
    • ability to fast forward attitude
    • situational leadership style
  • The ABLE Teacher's Journey is from teacher to coach. From the "sage on the stage" to the trusting and empowering "guide on the side"

ABLE Facilitator
  • Responsibilities:
    • facilitates the ABLE Events, for her team or on a rotation for whole classroom learning
    • helps the team stay focused, positive, and productive
    • reinforces and reminds the team meet their ABLE Agreements
    • encourages the team to utilize each member's strengths
    • helps the team follow the ABLE framework.
    • encourages the Learning Team to stretch reach their next Empowerment Level
    • removes roadblocks from the team and escalates issues that can not be resolved by the Learning Team to the Teacher
    • facilitates in team member mediation when needed
    • helps the team identify and obtain resources to meet their goals
    • does not have to be a dedicated assignment, it may be rotated to a different students per Sprint
    • does not have any authority over the team
  • The ABLE Facilitator may be the teacher in certain situations, such as:
    • intervention situations
    • early stages of ABLE to model the ABLE Facilitator role
  • The ABLE Master's Journey is from "just reciting the ABLE Process" to a "Team Coach and Facilitator", that can ask powerful questions of the team to help move them to their highest potential

ABLE Team Member
  • Responsibilities:
    • the "how of the work"
    • develops their own learning and project tasks
    • "pulls" their own learning tasks
    • collective ownership of the tasks as a team
    • commit to doing their best to achieve the learning outcomes be the end of a Sprint
  • Characteristics:
    • self-organzing is the fundamental characteristic and ultimate goal of an ABLE team
    • extremely collaborative
    • shared ownership of goals
    • self-mediating
    • team has diverse strengths, aptitudes,styles and passions that complement each other.
    • no prescribed roles exist or are assigned, except for the ABLE Master. Each team member contributes their own unique strengths and talents to accomplishing their shared goals.
    • suggested group size is 3-5 students. Too large of a team makes self-organization difficult; too small of a team does not provide the diversity required to leverage one another's strengths.
    • Self-organization means that the team is not told "how" to do their work and there is no central authority directing individual assignment to a team member. Students develop and self-select their own tasks to satisfy the learning or project outcomes in a self-organzing team.
  • An ABLE Team Member's Journey is from an individual learner, dependent on the teacher to be told the what, when, and how, to a learner as a member of a collaborative self-directed team, in other words, a "self-organized team".
What feedback do you have? How would you describe the roles and responsibilities of an ABLE Team? 

Thank You,
John Miller

12/9/12 Changed ABLE Master to ABLE Facilitator.

Based on the Scrum Framework


  1. Hi John, I wish I had time to give more substantive feedback because this seems like a worthy and very interesting initiative. My only comment at this time is to change the word "master" to "facilitator" or "guide". It is a somewhat loaded term and distracts from what you intend the role to be. IMHO... Good luck!

  2. What is Able, is it new? Would Scrum's Roles also work, based on your in-classroom experience?


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John Miller