West Branch Community Schools’ Student Voices and Student Leaders
The West Branch Community School District has outstanding student leaders. Students like Julia Diemer, Matt McIlrath, Jenna Bower, Alyssa Tisinger, Austin Perks, Jordan Gongora and Trystin Luneckas have attended various “student voices and student engagement” leadership conferences on behalf of the district. The Grant Wood Area Education Agency has provided multiple opportunities for students across districts to share regarding their current learning experiences, future learning needs and how schools can improve.
We appreciate the work of GWAEA leaders like Mr. Dick Whitehead and Mrs. Lisa Wilson who direct, facilitate and leads “student voices” efforts and have attempted to bring “personalized learning” concepts to the forefront of our regional education efforts.
The WBCSD administration has been meeting with student leaders over the past few months. Our goal is to receive authentic student feedback regarding their learning experiences and learning needs. We are incorporating the information and input they are sharing. Their input has great meaning. It is driving our thinking and efforts to transform our learning system. As an example, the district will be using two student surveys (across grade levels) to gain insights about their learning experiences. Student leaders provided input on the questions.
As an example, at a recent River Valley Conference principals meeting lead by Mr. Bucknell and teachers Michelle Bacon-Curry and Ms. Clare Keeney, student leaders Alyssa Tisinger, Matt McIlrath, Jenna Bower and Julia Diemer formed a student panel to share about their experiences with SBG and our 1:1 technology indicatives. I must say, they were impressive!
One of the most powerful experiences I had in the district was spending time interviewing over 40 middle school students regarding our Standards Based Grading (SBG) initiative just a few years ago. While our students didn’t always appreciate the change, especially those who experienced modifications along the SBG learning path, a majority of the students clearly identified that SBG was going to make them more accountable and more focus on their learning as opposed to being focused on completing things.
As a district, we are interested in creating a learning system that enhances student feedback around student interests. (Personalizing) One of the core strategic goals is to add hands-on, project or problem-based, authentic learning experiences supported by more and more facilitative teaching strategies and processes. We are not only scaffolding changes inside school walls at all levels, outside as well. Leaving to Learn concepts are growing. Provided real-world, hands on internships, apprenticeships and on-job, work force experiences is a growing demand and we must respond for our students.
We believe access to technology (1:1 or 2:1) allows students to deepen and personalizing their learning experiences. We know our staff and the system continues to grow and learn, but the journey will payoff for more and more students in the future. Did you know that we are organizing a “project / problem-based” study committee to assist us in this design?
We are grateful for the time and effort these students are making and their willingness to share; not only with us, but with other school district.
Please view this important student-centered video.