Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Innovative Schools: School Growth Plans WITH our Students

What a powerful evening at the final session of our Innovative School Series with school teams from SD67 and SD53.  This year one of our Through a Different Lens inquiry series challenged school teams to engage with their diverse learners as informants, co-learners and ultimately transformation leaders in making school goals and activities meaningful for everyone.  At our final evening of the series school teams shared how they used student voice to help them set goals, plan, take action, reflect on, and adapt their school growth plan - at the classroom and at the whole school level.

Throughout the series, schools offered ideas on ways they were listening to students - through interviews, daily work, surveys, forums, etc.  We had a number of students come and share in a number of our sessions.  But last night it just somehow all came together with both creative ideas and powerful stories.

We heard about 'passion profiles' at secondary where teachers can learn about the interests and passions of their students which allows them to begin conversations. We heard how important it is to listen to students who are in a place in their lives where school is not a priority because shelter, space, food, and love are, and how over time they become more interested in education and their future.  We heard about students delving into topics such as cyber bullying and mental health issues, crafting questions for further inquiry, and then going out and interviewing their middle school peers about these issues and trying to understand what others are facing.  Teams shared how they are conferencing with students to find evidence of the teachings they are exposing them to - risk taking, courage, and love - and how the responses they received helped them see students as knowledge keepers, not just knowledge receivers. We heard about kids not just having student voice but agency - participating in and planning activities and events important for their learning and that honoured and made a difference for others.  

Overall the theme was so evident - we learn so much when we stop and listen, when we plan and make space for students' insights, and when we change things once we have listened. 

The evening was powerful.



Big thanks to all who participated in SD67 and SD53, and supreme thanks to Dr. Leyton Schnellert who with great enthusiasm and energy asks important questions, prods us on, shows fabulous examples from throughout BC where things are happening, and fills us with the confidence that we too can do great things with our kids!  He reminds us that one of the most important things that we can do is nurture every student to speak on their own behalf, become experts in their own learning strengths, and develop the ability to communicate their insights.  It is our most diverse students who can help us transform education for all.

Blog by Judith King who is thankful for the planning committee:  Todd Manuel, Shona Becker, Marcus Toneatto, and Leyton Schnellert.


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