Burlington High School is a new YATST member. They have decided to jump start their work by creating and administering their student and teacher surveys regarding the 4 Rs (rigor, relevance, relationships and shared responsibility) this spring. Taylor Ducharme (Hazen Union junior) co-facilitated an orientation and survey development retreat day with YATST Director, Helen Beattie, on Friday, March 25. BHS students were oriented to the basic charge of YATST schools, enjoyed a problem solving challenge (above) and spent the afternoon tuning the student and teacher survey. Two groups were formed to decide 1) how to market this survey to the student body to increase buy-in, and 2) how to insure that ALL students at BHS have have the opportunity to fully understand and complete the survey - no small challenge in a school where students speak 34 different languages!
"There is something fundamentally amiss about building and rebuilding an entire system
without consulting at any point those it is designed to serve."
The author of this quote, Dr. Alison Cook Sather, recently extended an invitation to the Director of YATST to take part in a three day seminar entitled "Student Voice: Past Efforts, Current Trends, and Future Possibilities". It will be held June 30-July 2, 2011 at the University of Cambridge in England and include 20-30 individuals engaged in student voice work from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US. Alison is a Professor of Education at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and Coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Initiative. She is widely published and an internationally recognized expert in this field. YATST director, Helen Beattie, has frequently drawn on Dr. Cook Sather's vast knowledge of youth voice since the inception of YATST, and shared the evolution of YATST with her over the past three years. Two faculty from the University of Cambridge, Julia Flutter and Helen Demetriou, are joining Alison in co-hosting this event. As noted on the invitation, "Our goals in hosting this seminar are to inform people of past and current efforts; organize the seminar proceedings for all participants and for a wider audience; and generate ideas for future projects and programs".
This past fall Mary Whalen, Rowland Fellow and YATST teacher, visited the University of Cambridge faculty and shared our work. Mary and Helen Beattie will represent Vermont at this seminar, spreading word of the great work of our YATST schools far and wide.
The work of Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together has been honored in a feature article on the What Kids Can Do web site. Barbara Cervone, creator of this web site and life long advocate for school change, is on the YATST Advisory Board. She is an ardent supporter of the work. This story was inspired by her time with the YATST teams at the November State-wide conference "School Transformation: Be the Buzz!".
Here is the link to this article: http://www.whatkidscando.org/featurestories/2011/02_transforming_school/index.html...well worth the read!!
If you would like to discover the answers to these questions....
- How do Rigor and Relevance foster engaged learning and school transformation?
- What is the Rigor/Relevance Framework and how can it change our classroom experiences?
- How do I train others in the Rigor/Relevance Framework so that it serves as a catalyst for transformation in my school?
- What are the next steps to weave this Framework into our team's transformation efforts?
Then, consider spending the day with Ray McNulty on March 16!
Rigor, Relevance, and positive Relationships (3 Rs) are essential to increasing student engagement in learning. The looming question is...how do schools move from understanding the theory behind the 3 Rs to actually using them as a tool in the school transformation process?
The International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) has successfully developed the Rigor/Relevance Framework as a basis for school-wide transformation. Ray McNulty, President of ICLE and past Vermont Commissioner of Education, will share ways that schools around the country have successfully used this model to transform their learning environment. For example, in Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia, 150 students were trained to share the model with the entire student body of 3,000. Students nominate teachers who have integrated highly rigorous and relevant curricula into their courses on a monthly basis, and an award is presented at faculty meetings.
This “Training of Trainers” conference will coach attendees in using this model in their own school change efforts. Participants will leave this day with a sense of confidence and competence to utilize the Rigor/Relevance Framework as a guide for ACTION, including a plan to train peers and the greater school community in the model.
This opportunity is co-sponsored by the Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together initiative (YATST) and the Vermont Department of Education.
Who should attend? Teachers, students and administrators currently involved in high school transformation efforts. Attendees should have familiarity with the Rigor, Relevance Relationship model for school transformation. Ideally, schools will send a youth-adult team. NOTE: Including youth is recommended only if there is a plan for continued use of the Rigor/Relevance Framework in your school. Team size is limited to a maximum of 10. The conference is limited to 120 participants.
Location: Vermont College of Fine Arts - Gymnasium
Time: 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Cost: YATST Teams: Free of Cost Other Schools: Adults: $25 Students: $10
The conference flyer and registration form is attached. Register early! Space is limited and the initial response has been notable!
YATST and a team of students from the South Bronx High School of Violin and Dance (HSVD) joined forces on January 14, 2011 to present a four hour workshop on "Empowered Youth". The plans had been for YATST participants to spend the prior day co-planning this workshop. As winter weather would have it, the Vermont contingent was not able to get down to the city until Thursday afternoon, precluding any shared prep time. Despite this fact, the workshop session was deemed a success (see attached comments below) and the High School of Violin and Dance team is scheming to head north to the spring VRP/YATST conference on May 13!
This workshop was part of the School Reform Initiative Winter Meeting, hosting 300 educators from around the country. Participants are advocates for using effective facilitation strategies developed by SRI (Critical Friends Protocols) to help teachers support one another in improving their teaching practices. Both YATST and the HSVD have shared these methods with youth, so that they too can become effective facilitators of dialogue. In fact, YATST hosted a two day youth training with SRI founder Daniel Baron in October to develop their competence and confidence using these protocols (see article below). These powerful strategies allow students to both initiate and participate in school decision making and school transformation. This was the first workshop in the history of these national conferences to feature young people facilitating an entire session, using these protocols.
The YATST group, including students from Cabot, Twinfield, Hazen Union and Harwood Union, managed to weave in a bit of fun and sight seeing into the trip as well. Immediately following the conference session, we shared a lunch with the HSVD students at Ellen's Stardust Diner - complete with singing waiters and waitresses. The picture below was taken just before our departure after lunch.