Saturday, 6 October 2012

Student Voice has Impact

What a great experience last week. Our IPP process last week was praised by parents and teachers and consultants. For the first time at our school, all stakeholders were present at the table. To top it off, we included the students we were writing the IPP about. Everyone shared hopes and dreams for the student. To start the process, we asked the students what they thought they were good at. I was a bit surprised that this was really hard for every student. But, when I thought about it, these students are used to being told they need help, they are wrong and so on.  Thinking about what they were good at took some effort. Without exception, they all seemed quite embarrassed to come up with something they were good at.  Seems to me that our work is cut out for us with only that information.  Why is it so hard to think about something they are good at? My hope is that each teacher noticed that also. These kiddos need to know they have strengths and not only challenges. Just another case for strength based assessment and planning. For these students, we are often so focused on "fixing" what they cannot do, we forget what they can do! Just watching their faces as we teased out what they were good at was reward in itself. It is my hope they will remember that part of the discussion for a long time.
After letting the students share, parents had their turn. Teachers stepped in with what they had discovered and then consultants offered their insights from class observations. We left the process with the bones of a fantastic IPP that will guide teachers throughout the school year. Teachers felt very supported by the consultants who will be making regular school visits to support both teacher and students. And parents felt very supported and honored by the school team.  In fact, they felt they were an integral part of the team! We know we can only make a difference if we work together to further the education of our students.
This was a real "feel good" day ( albeit exhausting for the consultants and principal who sat in all meetings!) for all involved  Hopefully, this will be the standard for all IPP processes in the future as it can only add value to the education of the student and his/her family.

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