ACT 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative and the new Vermont Educational Quality Standards may require schools to redesign and serve students differently; however, at Harwood Union, students are not just responding to State Mandates, they are choosing to be co-creators and messengers.
Harwood students know that “our changing world requires us to strengthen our educational system, and just as a house needs remodeling from time to time, so do our schools.” Our students understand that education must reflect their needs as 21st learners and citizens, and that new structures must include student voice and choice and strong teaching and learning relationships between youth and adults. Furthermore, they know that the learning environment must be rigorous and include meaningful, real world experiences to prepare them to be college and career ready.
In partnership with Harwood adults, our students are taking an active role; that is exercising voice in decision-making, developing and implementing communication strategies, and sharing their knowledge and experience of the power of Flexible Pathways and Proficiency-based Learning as a way toward a more student-centered education. Students’ desire to learn, engage, and communicate school redesign has ignited myriad on and off-site opportunities. Here is what’s on the docket for Spring 2015.
Harwood Union School-wide Dialog
The members of the Communicating School Redesign course (Cole Lavoie; Alex Widschwenter; and Sophia Minter) have harnessed the energy of the members of our YATST group (Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together) as well as Student Government and the National Honor Society to conduct an All School Dialog – YES, all faculty/staff and students in grades 7-12 (approximately 800 people!) will simultaneously be engaged in a facilitated dialog session.
Be sure this is not just a ‘lets talk shop’ and idle away a couple of hours event. Student groups have carefully analyzed two years worth of several data sets, and identified the most salient needs for Harwood to improve teaching and learning for the 21st Century. The outcome of the dialog will be two-three concrete action steps that students, school administration and faculty/staff will be tasked to employ and/or focus on beginning in the 2015/16 school year.
The students and faculty/staff who have volunteered to facilitate the dialog – approximately 60 in total, will be formally trained in the ‘Responsive Dialog’ model. During the March 11 early release day, Daniel Baron, Co-founder of the School Reform Initiative and nationally recognized facilitator and trainer, will provide a half day workshop to prepare the volunteers in leading an interactive dialog with clearly articulated outcomes. The actual dialog will take place on April 1, 2015.