Thursday, May 11, 2017

Soul Force Reflection

What did I learn?

As my students learned about how to research their problem, I learned a great deal about teaching research skills.

Teaching research is hard. Students link it's a linear process where people start with a question and then they find sources that will give them the answer. Instead, it's an incessantly circular process where sources give different perspectives and sometimes even more questions. On top of that, good teaching means making sure students question sources, especially those on the Internet. In the past, I've used CARRDS to teach students about assessing the accuracy of internet sources. The steps of the acronym are great, but it does seem a little repetitive and long. This year, I used CRAP instead, and I liked being able to say "Don't use CRAPpy sources." More importantly, the acronym is shorter and simpler. Most importantly, I learned that I need to model HOW to assess sources with the CRAP rubric, as well as provide students time in class to evaluate sources so that they can ask questions. While I know that students need more practice with this skill, blog posts like Amanda's prove to me that they can think critically about internet sources.

I also learned a lot about having students do interviews as part of their research process. The key lesson was making sure students understand that scheduling can interview can take a long time, as shown by Sam's blog post. The after-interview Thank You cards also taught me a lot about what students do and don't know about formal writing and addressing envelopes.

What did I do?

As students worked on their Soul Force projects, I took action on the research I've done for the problem I identified: school culture, especially post-election. One of the most eye-opening sources I found was the Kansas data from the 2015 GLSEN School Climate survey. While this survey obviously wasn't taken post-election, it was some of the only local data I could find on school climate. This source, combined with many of the questions I've been answering from faculty here at ONW, gave me the idea to have a student panel for teachers to learn about LGBTQ+ issues.
Teacher check their own answers from pretest as students teach!
The most important thing the panel taught teachers is that we all need to work harder to ensure the certitude that our school is a welcoming and affirming place for all of our students.
Safe Space stickers and posters have increased at ONW.
I challenged faculty to consider what they learned in different ways: with their heads, heart, and hands/feet. Based on the profuse support events like Trans Day of Visibility and Day of Silence received from faculty, I think the training was an excellent first step of addressing one aspect of school climate.

What are my next steps?

My next steps in addressing this problem at ONW is taking the a data from the local climate survey and working with the administration to make sure it's used to plan for next year. While the results of the survey show that overall ONW is a serene place of learning for a lot of students, we can always improve. I am happy to report that my collaboration with Mr. Zuck has already begun!