THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax High School Expanding Opportunities for Student Voice & Choice

The YATST team is working hard this year to strengthen student voice and agency and to expand communication, understanding, and collaboration between our faculty and student body regarding Proficiency-Based Learning.

YATST, which is part of Vermont’s Up for Learning, stands for Youth and Adults Transforming Schools Together. The BFA Team includes 4 sophomores, 5 freshmen, and 5 adult advisors: Mahlia Parsons, Natalie Bates, Kiana Labor, Theresa Trenholm, Abby Sweet, Jarrett Sweet, Samantha (Sammy) Bidwell, Samantha (Sam) Langlois, Delaney Sweet-Werneke, Danielle Kicsak, Harold Vance, Dave Buckingham, Mark Ladue, and Linda Keating.

The BFA High School YATST Team has been especially busy over the past several months working to understand the impact of previous student engagement in Proficiency-based Learning, gather information and ideas from stakeholders, and to fine-tune their knowledge and skills in developing a greater sense of agency for high school students.

Analyzing the Data

The Team met in September to analyze data from previous years. The data included a survey done by Communicating High School Redesign in 2015/16, Mindset, Motivation, and Metacognition (M3) in 2016/17, and All-School Dialogue Day in June 2107. The analysis was used to both identify the need for a Freshman Dialogue Day and spearhead the planning.

Freshman Dialogue Day

During Freshman Dialogue Day, the Team led their peers in making some agreements about how the morning would proceed. First, they assessed a current level of understanding of Proficiency-based Learning, followed by a dialogue protocol called Wagon Wheels that guided students’ response to an article on rigor, relevance, relationship, and responsibilities (the Four Rs). Finally, the Team asked the Freshmen class 5 questions as part of a Chalk Talk, which is a protocol for students to silently get their responses out on large paper. The questions were:

  • WHAT INTERESTS YOU ABOUT THE CHANGE IN ASSESSMENT FROM A NUMBER/LETTER TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SKILLS?
  • WHY ARE SCHOOLS CHANGING?
  • WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE ABOUT PROFICIENCY-BASED LEARNING?
  • WHAT SKILLS WILL BE THE MOST HELPFUL FOR YOU (NOW AND BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL)? HOW WILL PROFICIENCY-BASED LEARNING BENEFIT YOU AS A STUDENT?

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Design Day at Lamoille Union High School

Design Day allowed the team to think more deeply about the data collected from the Freshmen and get support from another high school YATST team, our hosts at Lamoille. The Teams used modified Consultancy Protocols to explore several dilemmas, ideas, and questions.

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YATST Facilitator Training

Most recently the Team attended a facilitation training at Randolph High School facilitated by Marissa Barbieri from the Bay and Paul Foundation. Students were able to practice several new protocols developed by the National School Reform Faculty. The Team chose the Affinity Protocol to work with, which actually helped refine our goals and determine viable action steps for the next phase of the student leadership work.

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Linda Keating

 

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward

One thought on “THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax High School Expanding Opportunities for Student Voice & Choice

  1. As your YATST coach, thank you for publishing this information about the youth/adult team’s work. It is helpful to hear from the team’s perspective. I will be interested to follow your efforts as you take all the information you have and move the conversation about youth voice in learning forward.

    Harry Frank Up for Learning harry@upforlearning.org 802-989-4913

    Liked by 2 people

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