Student Leadership Project – Report
In April I posted about the “Student Voice and Student Leadership” project we were engaging in. At the end of the project I was required to write a report for the Ministry of Education. The ‘Student Leadership’ project was one part of a much bigger project, but still came with some significant learning. Below is the extract of the report pertaining to this project:
- We will measure how partnering with students in the design of the learning environment impacts the effective use of technology and the level of student engagement and ownership.
- We will measure the impact of using our students as leaders of learning and supports in a school (pertaining to technology) on teacher efficacy and instructional practice.
We will address these two areas together, as the project to do this became one and the same. This element of the project originated in our curiosities around the ways in which we access and use student voice. We used Hart’s Ladder as a point of reflection, whilst also considering the common refrain from teachers, “these students know more about technology than I ever will”.
We quickly realised that there was a role for students in not only impacting the design and nature of their learning environment, but also in supporting instruction and learning in the classroom.
We approached ten schools about being in a “Student Leadership” Project, where students were able to provide technology support to the teachers, who obviously retained the pedagogical expertise.
Three of our schools responded with interest in the project (in another year with different a different political climate this number most likely would be higher). In initial consultation with these schools, who were each asked to identify a lead-contact teacher for this project who was not the CIESC, the following outline was developed:
Session 1: A lead teacher and a selected group of students (each school used very different criteria in making these selections) work together to identify the ways that the students use technology to support their learning, both inside and outside of school. The students then select a limited number (it tended to be 5 or 6) different tools, apps, ideas or resources that they think their teachers would benefit from knowing more about and that the student would benefit from accessing in the classroom. The students plan a 1.5 hour workshop for the teachers to help them get to know these resources a little better.
Session 2: A group of technologically-reluctant teachers (self-identified) were invited to spend a half-day with the students. In one school, the entire staff was included in the learning. The students led the workshop they had planned previously. When this was over, the teachers selected one of the things they used that they can imagine using in the classroom. The teachers and the student co-plan a lesson, project, or unit of work that uses the new technology. Between the end of this session and the third session, the teachers and students will teach implement their plan in the classroom, supporting each other throughout the process.
Session 3: The work from the lesson will be shared and the process will be debriefed with the students. All participants will be asked to consider this experience and how we can build on it.
We will measure the impact of school leaders documenting learning in their buildings and sharing in networked communities on the school leaders’ role as an instructional leader.
This project, even though it was only in three schools, was enormously successful and led to some significant learning and changes in culture. Each of the teachers and students involved in the project were engaged in a conversation about the work. The themes were clear:
- 100% of the teachers involved tried something new with technology that they otherwise would not have done
- 100% of the teachers involved reported feeling more confident with technology than prior to the project
- 100% of the teachers involved are now more comfortable allowing students to lead part of the learning
- 100% of the students involved reported feeling empowered by the experience
- 100% of the students involved reported a feeling of being valued by their teachers
- 100% of the students involved felt more confident as a result of this project
- 100% of the students involved felt more engaged in learning when they worked with teachers to decide what it looks like
We did not apply the SAMR observation tool to the work in this project, mostly because the entry point for these teachers would mean that ‘Substitution’ level work would be considered a huge step forward. The project did not evolve to the point where observations on the “effective” use of technology were as valid as those on simply using it.
Every school has indicated that this work and relationship between students, teachers, and technology will continue next year. In fact, two of the schools have now established “Tech Teams” of students who are the go-to group for support in using technology. The next level of work in this project was beautifully stated by one of the students – “they (the teachers) are still avoiding a little. We need to do more to show them why they should be using technology, not just how”.