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On bringing students into faculty meetings

August 12, 2011

Today was the first day back for new teachers, and in my 13 years in teaching, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. If I had to to summarize the big idea in one phrase, I think I would choose the phrase “experiment and grow.”

The day was filled with experimentation. I watched as our President delivered a keynote presentation on the serious issue of institutional change, with thoughtfulness, humor and conviction, while he clearly was learning himself how to use some of the new technological tools at his finger tips.

We also are experimenting with George Couros, a K-12 principal in Alberta, Canada who is leading the charge to use technology to strengthen the humanity of schools. George introduced all sorts of new tools to the faculty meeting such as asking faculty to take photos of their learning throughout the day and place them in his dropbox me account.

And of course, we’re experimenting with twitter, which, from my fanatical perspective, seems to be spreading through our faculty like a gentle but very persistent wave. Having a backchannel in today’s opening meeting was so helpful for me—it was highly stimulating to be able to read what ideas were resonating with other faculty members during these presentations, and then to later go back and follow the whole thread of the presentation. It was also great to get ideas and participation from many faculty from beyond our school. But that isn’t what is amazing.

Here is what was amazing. A student joined in on our faculty meeting. Now, from my previous experiences, I think most students fear faculty meetings. Saying to a kid “you were discussed in faculty meeting” is one the must scary and suspenseful things a child can hear. But that wasn’t at all the case here. Here, this incredibly courageous rising 9th grader was participating right along in the back channel, asking questions, offering ideas, retweeting faculty tweets, and so much more.

Did you see that? This student, who has yet to spend even a day in high school is so engaged in learning and being a part of the school community that she would spend part her day participating in the faculty backchannel. What an awesome way to remind all of us of what our purpose is as a school—having a student there in our meeting, learning alongside us. How many students would want to listen in on faculty meeting and participate? The hoepful part of me thinks it is way more than you’d expect, and the important question is when will we let them?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2011 9:58 am

    John:

    Thanks for reflecting on the value of the student voice in this work. When we take the risk of making our meetings public (twitter) then we are providing a space for students to participate. What a powerful idea.

    Bob

  2. August 13, 2011 10:59 pm

    Another tweet that @gcouros shared about having a student participate our faculty meeting was the student’s response when George asked her what she thought as she read all these tweets from her teachers. Her response was that, seeing how engaged her teachers were over the summer and in the final few days before school was really inspiring to her. I have found that students are really willing to fully engage in their learning when they see their teachers doing the same. And, we talked a lot about keeping the focus on the students. What better way to reinforce that message than to have a student participate in faculty forum.

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