I just finished spending the day with about 220 students, and 60 adults, representing several dozen schools from across the Metro Vancouver area (including all three secondary schools in West Vancouver).
It was the latest installment in our School Completion and Beyond Series. The program, initiated by a Ministry of Education grant to the BC School Superintendents’ Association, focuses on improving the quality of students’ high school experience.
The basic premise is schools work on a project, or inquiry question led by students, intended to influence the structures or behaviours in their school. Schools and districts meet twice during the year, to be re-energized and track the progress of their work. They also share and learn from each other – something the students love!
Today’s work was framed by John Abbott, who is quite popular right now in B.C. with current conversations swirling around personalized learning. John spoke to the students (including a history lesson on Peter Puget), as well as during the morning table discussions.
Many of the schools’ inquiry topics were built around the following themes:
- Having Our Say
- Real World Learning
- Our Technology – Making Schools More Like Our Lives
- The Teacher and Me
- Why Are We Here Anyway?
What has been particularly assuring about the sessions is the work has been sustained over several years, and now continues with younger students joining on as older students take on greater leadership. For the first time in the three years of the series, students did all of the organizing and logistics planning today – truly owning the process.
The key request from student organizers asked of adults today – dress like us, no suits, no ties, be part of the group.
As for the title of the blog post, it comes from a question I was asked this morning. Students seemed surprised and impressed that the coffee and muffins were not just for the adults – they were partners today – and could drink the coffee.