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What if Students Designed and Presented Staff Development?

Four years ago, a dear colleague of mine and I had an idea for a PBL in our AP Psychology classroom. There was a particularly large and very important unit called Cognition and Memory that we were looking to handle in a new way. When I think about all of the content that is taught in the AP Psychology course, some of it is more or less relevant to a student depending on their circumstances. What is relevant to ALL students is how they learn new information and remember that information into the future. Our idea, which I blogged about at the time here was to create a PBL where students would design for teachers a training on how memory and cognition works. Shortly after doing the PBL, I became an assistant principal at another high school and never did see the idea come to fruition.

I was reminded of this again today, when I came across this post from November Learning. What would happen if we included students in the design process of staff development? What would happen if students helped us to present content, ideas, and strategies to teachers? My campus has already seen the power this year of what happens when you seek out the voice of your students to inform your practices. A couple of teachers on my campus are participating in the district's "Student Voice Project" where teachers conduct surveys and get feedback from their students about how things are going in their classes. We have also harnessed the power of student voice by including student panels in our staff development. This February, we had a panel of 5 students talk to our staff about what their experiences have been like at our school. The teachers submitted questions for the panel and I served as a moderator. The panel was so powerful that we had athletic coaches decide to hold panels among their athletes and we had classroom teachers decide to do their own follow up through surveys. A colleague tweeted about the experience:



As educators, we spend a lot of time identifying what students know and what it is that they need to know. Maybe we should be encouraging our students to do the same of us.

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