Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to the Future

Today, I re-entered classroom teaching on a small scale. I think this movie still might be how I appeared to the 29 students in second hour at Forest Hills Northern High School! I felt awkward, excited, nervous, and full of ideas. There was also a metaphorical significance -- I began my teaching career at FHN 13 years ago, and today felt like going back home to support our future.

We are launching a student voice initiative around school improvement, using the C3 Framework and standards. Students will:

  • develop questions about FHN and secondary education, and plan inquiries;
  • apply democratic principles to participation and deliberation;
  • gather and evaluate evidence; and
  • communicate conclusions and take informed action.
There is no real way to predict ultimate outcomes, because students will be making choices all along the way. My role is to support, coach, mentor, and guide. Much like Doc Brown, I may set some wheels in motion, but the future will be shaped by those who have the most at stake -- our students. For more on the "why," check out this 9:26 TEDxPlano talk by Catherine Zhang.

One of the pieces we collaborated on this morning involved this continuum from student voice work done by Eric Toshalis and Michael Nakkula:

As we went around the room meeting each other, I asked students to share where they thought we currently are on this continuum. Twelve chose Consultation, thirteen chose Participation, one chose the middle ground between those two, and three chose ActivismWe'll re-visit it from time to time, and it will be interesting to see if students shift their thinking left or right.

For now, I'm working on tomorrow's learning target. Even though I re-wrote today's multiple times, I still was not happy with it when I walked in and shared it. Tomorrow we will be working on co-creating norms of collaboration within our learning community, with the initial question of "do we need rules?" One thing I know for sure -- I need to go hunt down a thinking partner before I leave today.

Join the conversation...
Where do you think your school or district might be on the student voice continuum? No matter where you are, is there a compelling reason to move? What might that be?

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