As my team of teachers and I reflected in the evenings and on the plane ride on the way home, we wondered: Where were the students? I know there were some poster sessions that had students present (although unfortunately I didn’t get to any poster sessions – too many things to choose from), and of course Tim Tyson brought a couple of students to talk about their amazing work in his closing keynote. But, overall, it was a bunch of adults talking about what’s best for students. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think a bunch of adults talking about what’s best for students is a fine thing (it’s what I spend most of my time doing, after all), but I can’t help but wonder how much more powerful it would be to have students involved in these discussions as well. Particularly at my level – high school – I believe student voices would add a ton.
So we talked about the possibility of bringing some of our students with us next year to NECC in San Antonio (assuming we go). And we came up with the usual problems – money and liability. It was hard enough to come up with the money to send the five of us to NECC this year. Our superintendent kicked in $3,000 to help out (thanks Scott!), but that’s a fairly rare occurrence. It cost us around $800 each to attend NECC (not including meals), so bringing even three or four students would be a significant expense. And then there’s the permission and liability issue . . .
So, while we’re not giving up on that idea yet, we may save that for 2010, when rumor has it NECC will be in Denver. The cool thing about that is that last year’s freshmen – who were the first group at our school to have any classes with laptops – will graduate just before NECC 2010. (I wonder if my school will look significantly different by then?)
Then we talked about involving our students much more in our own staff development efforts. We’ve talked about this some before, but I haven’t devoted the time to figure out how to make that work. That’s something I really need to do. And I’ll be encouraging my teachers to involve our students in their lesson planning efforts (for lack of a better term) – helping plan, implement and assess what goes on in their own classrooms - more on that in a (hopefully soon) future post. As other folks have said recently regarding including students in all of this, we really need to hear from “the horse’s mouth.” Perhaps if we listened to students more, we might learn a few things.