Saturday, November 22, 2014

When students tell the school's story

One of the opportunities we have as educators is the opportunity to ferociously browse what other schools are doing.  From curriculum to programs, technology to structure, and learning environments to philosophy/mindset, learning from others should be considered a wonderful collaborative obligation.

The best measure of any school’s effectiveness is its students; and I’m talking beyond achievement scores. I’m referring to how the students describe the school with the words and manner in which they express what they think of their school. This past week I was able to attend an event where the story of how one school was doing was expressed beautifully by their students, who were courageous enough to serve as a panel before a crowd of 250 people to express themselves.  Here are a few “from the mouth of babes” key statements that spoke to me.

“I am learning to listen with eyes, ears and heart.”

“We always need a WIG – Wildly Important Goal – to work toward.”

“We let the teachers think they are in charge; but really, we are the ones who are running things.” (I love this one…great indication that the student has taken charge of their learning & future.)

“I’ve learned that goals are easier to achieve when we know the steps to get there.”

“My school isn’t just a school, it’s a place that I can call home.”

And my favorite…
“What I like about my school is that the teachers think I can accomplish anything.”

What I found wonderfully refreshing is that I was learning from students.  I was learning that these statements from elementary students, from grades 2-5, were not just random statements, but guiding and personal compass statements they were applying daily.  Such behaviors generally come as a result related to the last student quote, because there is a teacher that believes in them so much that they too believe in themselves.

I know there are great examples of exemplary schools all around that we can look to.  This specific story comes from what I learned from the students at @WYE_Bulldogs.  I appreciate that their exemplary principal @RomanaDunn14 and the WYE staff have turned the telling of the students’ future story over to who it belongs: the students.  It makes me wonder: what story would your students tell of your school?