A group of students and staff from the three middle schools recently met for a half-day to kickoff a year of learning together in inquiry design teams to provide insight relative to their school climates. The event was part of the National Equity Project Work led by Margaret Schultz, BHS Director of Instructional Equity.
Attendees learned to examine survey data, then reviewed survey results for their schools from the district-wide annual Panorama Student Survey. Designed originally with Harvard University, Panorama gathers feedback from students about their classroom experience since research has shown that student perceptions strongly correlate with learning outcomes. “We have students looking at the questions and telling us the story behind the data,” said Schultz. “We want to know what matters to them. Students telling us what they need can help us look at the culture of our building as a whole and take steps to improve that.”
Kayden Stephens (grade 6) represented East Hills at the kickoff event. “During the first activity with researching data, it was really fun to see other people's differences for our school,” said Stephens. “Everyone was expressing their feelings, and we were able to talk to our principals.”
“I think that the teachers will realize where we are all coming from,” said Izzy Dukes (grade 8) from West Hills. “At first I didn’t know how they would respond, but then I felt more comfortable. I was able to get a lot of things off my chest.”
At the end of their time together, the students shared their thoughts with the staff on several areas, including
- How do you know staff at our schools care about you?
- How did you know when a teacher or adult in your school believes in you?
- What would make your school more fun?
- What kind of decisions would you like to make in your classroom and about your school?
- What kind of things would you like to do to help others at school and make a difference?
Jack Sloan (grade 8), a student at Bloomfield Hills Middle School, said everyone was engaged and open to sharing ideas. “I learned a little more about how others feel and about how I can help bring some change. I’m now able to advocate for myself and others, bringing it up to people who can help me change that.”
The groups will meet monthly as school teams, plus come together from all middle schools every other month. “Over the course of the year, the students, teachers, and administrators will be designing solutions to try out and will bring that information back to the whole team to review,” Schultz noted.