Sunday, January 25, 2009

Educon 2.1: Forging Student-Teacher Relationships

During the conference on Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Kustler and Tyrone Kidd, 9th grade students at the Science and Leadership Academy. They were very engaging, told me that they would be presenting on this topic, and I wanted to be sure to check it out.
Jeff started by sharing his experience in school, having skipped a grade, a mensa member, attended schools around the northeast. Picked SLA for the technology, lives in New Jersey.
They started helping out Marci Hull, Computer Coordinator/Art teacher at SLA, and assisted in imaging all student computers for this school year.

Tyrone shared his experience "networking his way to SLA", through Twitter, he was connected to Chris Lehmann through his teacher Brandon Lutz, and started "stalking" SLA and "crashed" Educon last year. With the help of his advisor, teacher, and parents and others. He came to the conference and became his own advocate, to make something out of himself. Came to Open House and started questioning Marci and developed a relationship. The first day, the students thought he was a substitute (Greg Oden look-a-like!)
Students attended summer institute.

Students at SLA start with an advisor in 9th grade and continue with them throughout their time there. Advisories are two days a week for a full period. Students aren't in the same classes necessarily, but students/advisor can advocate for each other. Marci knows her better than anyone, "which is kind of odd!" A lot of problems can get worked out, and the advisor can advocate for talking with other people. (Advisors have 20 students, principal and councellor also have advisory)
Structure of Advisory
Student looks forward to it, especially during benchmarks-time to talk to people and collaborate
Look forward to getting input
Sometimes time to unwind
Space to come together with students where no content is attached. (No standard)
Teacher-chance to listen
Scheduled time to do that.
Silent study time-effective for 9th graders (Including no chatting!)
Metaphor in Science-Pick an event that you disliked in 2008 you wanted to get rid of. Write on a piece of paper, and burned the paper!
Team building

5 Words that share what life is like here:

Ego
Teachers don't have an ego, where "I'm the teacher, you're the student and you have to learn what I say!"
Marci-"This is the perfect place to fail, I'm setting you up for it!" In tech, I introduce topics and ask for their feedback. I don't have all the answers. What do you find in a filterless network?! Student leaders can share waht they want to introduce, she then guides
Larissa-What can we talk about that is real and value student thoughts-"How might you communicate that?"
Tyrone-Deadlines for benchmarks are very close

?-"What are teachers learning?
Larissa-Essential Questions-Teachers don't have a pre-determined answer. Classes will go in different directions. Not all cookie cutter the same. Teacher is the co-learner on the educational journey with each class.
Marci-All members of my personal learning network are used to assist in the process of learning. Forging those connections. By forging a relationship with a student, she stays connected to what it means to be a teen-ager. Marci came from a failing school, she had a certain teacher persona there-where students there could hear her, but at SLA she pays more attention to student voices.
Jeff-Every single day in Math, there's no such thing as the teacher teaching us...It's about investigation and discussing together.
Tyrone-Mohamed moved here from France and sits on developing formulas for the class to figure out. It's not just the teacher teaching.

?How do you foster the courage for kids to be able to share their thoughts?
Jeff-Teachers are down to earth and have an open environment.
Students always have a reflection at the end of each benchmark. To give kids the ownership of the project leads to...

Transparency-
Marci-Reflecting and presenting is part of the core values. Everyone is expected to present, so every adult in the building is focussed on it.
Differentiate for each one of your kids and what's important to them is important to you!

Interactions-
(Jeff is modelling the SLA way-"Does anyone have any sparks seeing that word?")
Tyrone-At this conference, the key to interactions is working together. All the teachers are in sessions, so we've been empowered to keep things working.
Sarah-I remember not speeking to any teachers here for a long time. One of the most important things was in 9th grade was a moment when I thought everyone was tricking me, being so nice. In advisory, she's not my teacher, she's not my friend, she's in the middle.
?Have the ways you interact at SLA changed the way you interact with others in the world?
Tyrone-My teachers and parents are on the same level.
Jeff-I agree, teachers are like parents in that they truly want us to succeed. These are the kinds of people who you can talk about what was on T.V. last night.
What's the difference between teachers here and in the outside-
Jeff-The teachers have the freedom to move the curriculum in the direction that they think is best.

Tyrone's former teacher, Brandon Lutz : As much success I've had it's because of Tyrone!
Discussion moved to Twitter's impact on students and teachers learning together.
Is Twitter ok, but Facebook no? Boundaries??
Lutz later said-I wouldn't have students as friends on Facebook, but on Twitter, it's ok. He just keeps his own "non-professional" personal things on Facebook.

Ethics of Care

Boundaries-(I guessed it)!
If a teacher doesn't tell you the proper way to behave how do you know?
Tyrone and Jeff: Observation, Ms. Hull got upset when a student was tardy, so I knew that expectation. Most teachers in the course overview section of Moodle have the expectations listed. Sometimes you just need to put 2 and 2 together.

How do you know when you've crossed the line?
Tyrone: Facial Expressions! Non-verbal communication
Sarah-When you are young, you're taught to respect your elders. Then you grow up and forget about it! Online, with social networking, you still need to be respectful, at the end of the day, you're still the student, and their the teacher. I'm friends with every one of my teachers on FaceBook, if pictures come up on your page that can be linked back to school, it reflects on the school and it's not ok.
Jeff-It helps me to realize that these teachers are here for us. They have a life. They're people as well. When you look at Chris Lehmann's tweets, you see how hard he is working for us!!
Audience: Kids today are learning technology outside of school, we learned it in school.
Sarah: By being connected to our teachers, it has forced us to be more professional with our on-line interaction.
I use proper grammar in my on-line life, because then when I'm at school I don't have to turn it on.

Here at SLA, all three students said that they were treated with respect by the teachers as people.

?In 140 characters or less, when do you feel frustrated?
Tyrone-When I can't meet the deadlines
Sarah-When I can't do something and I'm pushed to do it anyway
Jeff-When I can't go even further beyond the spectrum of what's expected!

Sarah-The teachers don't run EduCon, we run Educon

Marci-Have authentic relationships with the studetns in your care!!
Jeff-If you have any questions, follow us, ask us questions!
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