Friday afternoon at Oak Hill High School was a professional development afternoon. So our students headed home around 12:30 and the teachers and administration stayed for an afternoon of what we hoped would be a beneficial discussion with a group of students. The idea was very simple….the administration had asked a group of students to stay for the afternoon (of course they were bribed a bit with pizza) and meet with teachers to tell us what they see as good things that teachers do in the building and what things that maybe they don’t like. Students met with the principal a few times before Friday afternoon and they were given the ground rules, which included not getting personal, which the kids did great with. Also, it should be noted that the kids asked to take part in this “town hall meeting” ranged from Freshman to Senior and also ranged from academically gifted to academically challenged. We wanted a varied group of students to try to represent all points of view.
So how did it go? Well, my group of teachers met with two groups of students and the discussions were very good. We actually wanted more time together than was allowed. There was plenty of give and take between teachers and students and no one got offended, no one got upset, no one got personal and the dialogue was very good. So what did students say……..They like or want things like the following list of points I wrote down from students:
- On-line stuff is good
- Paperwork is boring
- Mix things up to keep it fresh
- Tell stories and experiences to make it real
- Teach us how to study (maybe a bit surprising for me)
- Hands on stuff is effective
- Don’t lecture all period
And even stuff like
- Enforce the dress code….too much skin and too much underwear is seen (that from kids!!)
- We like Oak Hill…..teachers care about students
- The Relationship is more important than the subject matter
- We like coming to Oak Hill…..for the most part
Overall, I think the afternoon was fantastic. I am one that believes we should do this every year with students. Are all of their comments good……no….but all of my lessons are not setting the world on fire either….but listening to the people we spend the most time with is something that I don’t think we do enough. Professional Development afternoons can be some of the worst times for teachers in public education……yesterday however, it was one of the best.