2.10-16: Students & Adults As Co-Workers

Cross-posted at Principals in Training

This video is the product of two students (Ben Enbom and John Hassen) at my school, Sir Francis Drake High School.  The ONLY thing I did was give them the driving question.  We collaborated on this project – well, it’s more like I mooched off of their artistry and passion for film.  I didn’t follow them around, I didn’t pick the people they interviewed, I didn’t review the final edit.  We talked ahead of time about my general ideas for this week’s chat and I trusted them to do the right thing.  And guess what?  They did the right thing.  Why am I so un-surprised?  I see kids doing the right thing all the time – they just want more opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the mini-verses of our schools…and beyond.

I’ve thought this question over for years – long before I stepped into my “authority/boss” role as assistant principal: while education certainly is a service we provide, the best classes I’ve been a part of (as a teacher, as an observer) feel like startups – everyone working shoulder-to-shoulder to create something unique.  It got me thinking: do we really want to continue a model where we TELL kids what to do and how to do it, or do we shoulder-up as co-workers?  If we want them to be college/life/universe ready when they depart our (high school) shores, shouldn’t we give them the chance to ACTUALLY have a say in how those four years go?

My CHALLENGE to you: invite your students to our chat.  Have them make videos about the ideas we discuss and post them to the chat.  You know what ingredient has been missing for so long in the work I’ve done alongside my adult colleagues for 16 years?  Students in the room, giving us their perspective, ideas, expertise.  Students putting their hand in the huddle when it’s decision-making time.  We can turn that around – but what will that involve?  What will we have to change, give up, leave behind?

I look forward to our time together starting Monday.  Massive UPS to David and Catina for leading off with two tremendous weeks of learning and connecting.  Here are the first few questions to start mulling over:

Q1: Being co-workers implies mutual trust/respect: talk about your school culture through the lens of St/adult relationships: strengths & areas 4 growth.

Q2: Are YOU satisfied with the role your students play (or, if you are a student, YOUR role) in how your school operates?  Is the level of engagement where it should be? Explain why/why not.

Q3: Do you think students need more of a say/voice in HOW your school operates?  In how your class operates?  Why/why not?

Q4: Talk about PD at your school: are Ss ever involved in meetings? In planning sessions? In debriefing how “the work” is going?

Q5: What needs to change in schools/classrooms for students to see themselves as our co-workers? What do we have to give up?

Q6:

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