I left today’s second F2F session with a specific question:
- How might we develop an inquiry-based unit which allows students to co-create academically rigorous success criteria, while leveraging observation/conversation assessments to track progress, mediate misconceptions, increase resiliency, and support students’ mental health in an unstructured environment?
Was the process to drive me to this question lively? Invigorating? Engaging? Absolutely.
Then why did I feel like I had missed the mark when I was heading home? I had a question that was cohesive, practical, and measurable, which aligned my school’s academic foci with my personal interests – something I didn’t feel I could fully achieve when I began my day.
Yet, when looking down at the last tab I had open on my phone, I saw my student’s anonymous survey feedback. And in that moment, I felt like I lost the user somewhere in my process today.
My students have resoundingly said that they need support managing expectations, and find missing school/class time overwhelming and challenging. They have told me that their mental health and wellness is suffering. They want me to know that teenagers feel stressed, stretched, and exhausted.
- How might we best support our students when they are absent from school, particularly during inquiry-based activities?
Maybe what I should really be unpacking with my students is what they find most challenging, or frustrating to manage when trying to catch up. I think these questions demand I go back to my students and dig a bit deeper to learn about what barriers exist for them when trying to catch up on missed work.
- Does this look different if they miss school because of sports? An appointment? Health? Family vacations?
- Are the frameworks we have in place lacking?
- Is our lesson design or online unit plan design challenging for students to decipher?
- Do students disengage more with content when they miss school because they are discouraged when catching up? Can this snowball into more absences?
- How does our school’s adviser program play into this?
- How do teachers feel about the frameworks we have in place? Are they stretched and strained trying to catch up students who were away?
- What do we see in our own classrooms? As advisers?
This question and its complexities lay beyond my classroom and likely require that I engage with various stakeholders at my school. I’m left wondering if I need to challenge myself to explore a bigger, messier question that my students have overwhelmingly said is an issue from grades 7-12, instead of playing it safe with a framework that can be answered with a series of checkboxes.
I think that nagging feeling was that I wasn’t being honest with myself with my curiosity, and in the end what I really need to be exploring is what is best for student wellness and mental health.