Students ask teachers, do you have what it takes?

January 18, 2018
Students give feedback on what learning strategies works for them

“Do you have what it takes to teach a Pony?” That’s the question a group of high school students posed to their teachers earlier this week.

As part of the January 16 professional development day, teachers listened as a panel of eight 11th and 12th grade students shared their experiences at the high school. In a game show format, the students answered a series of questions about what type of learning strategies worked best for them. The students were asked to hold up a sign that said either “Helps,” “Doesn’t Help,” or “Neutral” when each strategy was listed. They rated things like lectures, small group conversations, test retakes, group projects, planners and due dates, and feedback.

Students also had the opportunity to tell their teachers what makes them feel most supported in their learning. For the majority of them it came down to just one thing … relationships.

“The times I felt I belong is when a teacher takes the time to not only know me, but speak to my strengths and weaknesses, to take time to work with what works with me,” said Fatima Menawa.

“In a big school, when a teacher knows your name it makes you feel like you belong,” added Emmanuel Kamara.

At the end of the session, teachers watched an emotional video in which dozens of students shared personal stories - from struggling with mental illness to immigrating from another country - and proudly stated how they define themselves. The powerful message at the heart of the video is that each student comes to school with vastly different experiences, yet are all Ponies.

The panel was designed to give students a voice and help staff better understand the impact of what they do in the classroom every day.

“Staff loved hearing directly from students,” said Andrea Schueler, an instructional coach at the high school. “All the learning and planning that we do is with the goal of offering our students a better learning experience.  Without hearing from them, we are missing a key component to helping us evaluate and improve our work.”