Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

When was the last time you invited a student to a faculty meeting?

CJ Westerberg, March 9, 2011 7:25 PM

bulls eye.target.KristenOlson.jpg

by Kirsten Olson

What have you done, as a classroom teacher, a student, a parent, administrator, to make your school more equitable, less hierarchical, more welcoming to everyone, and more like a place where real thinking happens?

1.  Invite 5 students to a faculty meeting

2.  Eliminate staff and student bathrooms

3.  Ask students to facilitate important school wide meetings

4.  Start each day with a morning meeting and check in, and listen to each other. (How are you? How are you feeling today?)

5.  Ask students to develop rubrics for judging "excellent" work

6.  End courses/units with a culminating projects designed by students, about something that really matters to them

7.  Have students read each other's papers and comment on them, directly to each other

8.  Get students to determine the homework policy (even in the early grades)

9.  Charge students with deciding what goes up on the walls at school

10.  Pass a "talking stick" during intense discussions so that everyone gets a chance to speak

11.  Eat lunch with kids (or teachers) you rarely talk to

12.  Ask students to attend parent/teacher conferences

13.  Ask students to evaluate themselves prior to parent/teacher conferences

14.  Ask students to run parent/teacher conferences

15.  Have everyone practice "yes/and" more than "no/but" (because success is available to everyone!)

YES! And what can you add?

This post was previously published in The Daily Riff under a different title  and previously 
 posted at the IDEA (Institute for Democratic Education In America) website.

 H/T to Cooperative Catalyst:

It was an amazing meeting.  Ten activists, educators, school founders, and school re-starters recently gathered for an IDEA Board Retreat in San Francisco.  Fired up by Pedro Noguera's keynote speech to the Coalition of Essential Schools the day before, we framed up IDEA's commitments and strategy:  how we move this baby out so we're actually doing something, making sure we're talking about what matters, and ensuring we're providing tools for change. Because we aim to be the organization in this country connecting people who are transforming and revolutionizing education, we had a lot to talk about.

Want to get in?

 by Kirsten Olson

Kirsten Olson is author of Wounded By School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to the Old School Culture, "a book that looked at the learning stories of hundreds of "ordinary" students to understand their experiences of being in school"
Olson is an educational activist, writer, teacher, and Chief Listening Officer at Old Sow Consulting in Brookline, Massachusetts.  She received a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and was an English major at Vassar College.

(Editor's Note:  A huge thumbs up for Wounded by School - one of the most important books and  must-read for parents, teachers, administrators -  how school, in its present form,  affects our students.  An eye-opener. 
One of my top ten most underlined.   -  C.J. Westerberg)

Related posts The Daily Riff:

What Would Ted Sizer Say About Technology?

What Adults Can Learn from Kids: Don't Underestimate our Ability - Video

President Obama - Isn't it Time to Listen to Students? 


Pedro Noguera: "Demanding Education That Matters" (1/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

Pedro Noguera: "Demanding Education That Matters" (2/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

Pedro Noguera: "Demanding Education That Matters" (3/3) from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

  • Love this! Let's keep them coming so we can get t0 50!

    32. Analyze a "decision" a class has collectively made that has not worked out well, discuss the decision-making process, and what might be done to achieve a better result. What didn't work? What can we learn from this? What should we be thinking about for next time?

  • Okay, we're really up to 31 since three came in all at once- can we get 19 more before the New Year??

  • Ed

    21.Establish a class agreement for optimal learning, rather than teacher setting rules.

    22. Have students lead conferences where they share their learning with their parents.

    23. Create a culture where thinking is modeled and valued.

    24. Step back and encourage students to take control of their own learning.

    25. Allow choice for assessment tasks, so that learning can be demonstrated in a a variety of ways

  • Monika

    21. help push toward: curriculum compacting, enrichment clusters, and total talent portfolios http://tinyurl.com/24btz8f (as written up here http://tinyurl.com/2a53awp)

  • Great idea, Kirsten!

    21. LISTEN to kids--give them a chance in every lesson to share how they think/feel/question.

    22. Let kids sit where they want to, beside whom they want to. I tell them to make wise choices or WE'll have to re-negotiate the choice. (Again, they would give input and have decision-making ability to choose differently or decide to change the behavior that's causing us to have this conversation.)

    23. Shake the seating up regularly, encouraging the kids to sit by someone they've never sat by before to get to know more people. (Again, they get to choose.)

    24. Let kids go when they need to go. Don't make them ask to go to the bathroom.

    25. Teach kids how to have a conversation without raising hands--turn-taking with respect and considerate behavior is a crucial social skill.

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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
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