First Presenter's Institution

Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

Second Presenter's Institution

Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

Third Presenter's Institution

Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Vernon

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This presentation will focus on Strand II – “Heart” (Social and Emotional Skills) - Over the past three years, Francis Scott Key Middle School has worked to build the Social and Emotional Skills of both teachers and students by focusing on a student voice project. This project grew from the school’s work of building the cultural proficiency of teachers as a way to reduce the achievement gap evident in all school improvement measures. It became clear that along the pathway to teachers building their understanding of cultural proficiency, they needed to hear from students in order to build a school community that embraces the cultural diversity of everyone. This would allow the transformation of classrooms to facilitate the learning of every student through equitable classroom practices. At the core of the student voice project is the belief that empowering students to become leaders in school improvement and developing positive communication skills will create a community of learners who can share ideas in a positive, productive problem-solving setting Not only will this contribute to a positive school climate that has teachers and students collaborating for innovation and excellence for all, but it creates a school where achievement is not predictable by race. Furthermore, it will create opportunities for students to engage in positive action that will improve their school, community, and world.

Brief Program Description

Is it possible to reduce the achievement gap simply by implementing effective instructional practices? Francis Scott Key Middle School in Montgomery County Maryland has learned that building the cultural proficiency of teachers goes beyond classroom practices. The school’s Student Voice Project has transformed ideas about instruction by empowering students’ voices and investing in the infinite power of students’ actions.

Summary

The presentation will share the on-going journey of Francis Scott Key Middle School as we develop the cultural proficiency of teachers in order to reduce the achievement gap. The major focus of this presentation will be the Student Voice Project model used during the past three years and how through this project we are preparing our students to lead through action. Teachers cannot become culturally proficient unless they hear and understand the culture, experiences, and aspirations of their students as well as learn how to actively support students in becoming catalysts of change.

Session Outcomes: By the end of the presentation, participants will have:

  • Discussed the connections between cultural proficiency, culturally responsive teaching, equitable practices, and high expectations
  • Discussed school-based strategies to increase student service and action
  • Heard one school’s journey to reducing the achievement gap

During the presentation, participants will engage in several learning opportunities:

  • Placemats – With small groups discuss which quote “speaks” to them the most
  • Word Splash – making connections between cultural proficiency, culturally responsive teaching, high expectations, equitable classroom practices, and identify agents of global change
  • Think-Pair-Share/Paired-Verbal-Fluency – process questions throughout the presentation
  • Corners – Processing personal beliefs with other participants

The presentation will include the following:

  • Activator – Placemat with quotes – reflecting on cultural proficiency
  • Francis Scott Key – Who are we and what does our data say?
  • MYP – Creating students of action
  • Our work with cultural proficiency – moving from philosophical to practical – This includes defining key terms, and processing activities used with staff – Word Splash
  • Missing the connection – Reviewing the obstacles that we encountered that led us to the Student Voice Work
  • Student Voice 2014 – 2016– A brief overview of what we had previously done
  • Student Voice 2016 – 2017 - Focus on the importance of understanding the cultural identity of each student as a means of building cultural proficiency; opportunities for students to share how they want to be agents of change; staff-student walk-through, root cause analysis using the data.
  • From Voice to Action – 2017 – 2018 – Continuing the previous work, but elevating student service as part of the curriculum and beyond – Video – From Voice to Action
  • Corners - Reflecting on topics discussed
  • Questions and Answers

Evidence

The largest stake-holder group in education -- students -- is often the least represented group in educational decisions. The students’ perceptions can be an important factor in school improvement and reform. “Students’ reactions to and perceptions of their educational experiences can provide teachers with valuable insights into their teaching and the classroom environment.” (Bell & Aldridge, 2014).

Giroux (1988) emphasized the importance of obtaining student ideas of teaching and learning as a means to hear the perspectives of groups that are "marginalized" as a way to “…reclaim the authorship of their lives.”

Listening to student voice also supports the development of culturally responsive classrooms. By hearing from students, teachers can “…construct pedagogical practice in ways that are culturally relevant, racially-affirming and socially meaningful to students.” (Howard, 2003).

Opportunities for students to provide feedback and give their voice to teachers about “…what students know, what they understand, where they make errors . . . then teaching and learning can be synchronized and powerful. Feedback to teachers helps make learning visible.” (Bell & Aldridge, 2014).

Research also supports the importance of student service in academic success. Meuers (2016) states that students who complete service projects are “… more likely to graduate high school and will see themselves as agents of positive change in their communities because they feel connected to what they are learning. . . and have a voice in their education.” Participation in service learning supports the development of “engagement, self-confidence, connectedness, relevance, behavior, and communication …” important elements of academic achievement (Meuers, 2016). In the research brief “The Impact of Service-Learning: A Review of Current Research,” (2007), the authors summarize research showing the positive impacts of service learning in the areas of academic achievement, academic engagement, and civic attitudes.

Pairing two powerful practices – student voice and student service – allows Francis Scott Key Middle School to hear from the largest stake-holder group about their education, and provide students the avenue to became positive agents of change for the school, the community, and even the world.

References:

Bell, L. & Aldridge, J., (2014). “Student Voice, Teacher Action Research and Classroom Improvement,” ADVANCES IN LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS RESEARCH, Volume 6, Sense Publishers.

Giroux, H. (1988). “Literacy and the pedagogy of voice and political empowerment,” Educational Theory 38(1): 61–75.

Howard, T., (2003). “Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection,” Theory into Practice, Volume 42, Number 3.

“The Impact of Service-Learning: A Review of Current Research,” Corporation for National and Community Service, http://www.compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/07_0224_issuebrief_servicelearning.pdf, January, 2007.

Meuers, A. (2016). “Service-Learning & Academic Success,” National Youth Leadership Council. https://nylc.org/2016/07/06/service-learning-academic-success/.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mr. Norman Coleman – Mr. Coleman is the Principal at Francis Scott Key Middle School. He has experience both as an Elementary and Middle School Principal. This marks his 13th year as a school based administrator. He has earned a Bachelor’s (Elementary/Middle School Education) and Master’s Degree (Educational Leadership) from the University of Delaware, a Master’s from George Washington University (Bilingual Special Education), and is currently working on his Dissertation for a Doctoral Degree (Educational Leadership with a focus on Special Education and Cultural Linguistic and Diverse Student populations) from Bowie State University. Mr. Coleman has worked with students from Grades Pre-K – 12th in his 20 years of experience as an educator.

Ms. Beth Hester – Ms. Hester is the Middle Years Programme Coordinator at Francis Scott Key Middle School. She began her middle school career as a Reading and Advanced English Teacher. Throughout her 13 years in Montgomery County Public Schools, Ms. Hester has worked as a Grade 5 teacher and a Staff Development Teacher. She has been an educator for over 20 years.

Ms. Helen Webster – Ms. Webster has been the Staff Development Teacher at Francis Scott Key Middle School since 2000 and was the Reading Teacher at the school beginning in 1990. A certified Reading Specialist, Ms. Webster has worked in Montgomery County Public Schools for 33 years and has been an educator for 37 years.

Keyword Descriptors

student voice, service, cultural proficiency, change, student empowerment, achievement gap

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

3-5-2018 1:15 PM

End Date

3-5-2018 2:30 PM

Diversity_Toolkit_Cultural_Competence_for_Educators.pdf (48 kB)
Diversity Toolkit

LInkages Chart 2017_2018.pdf (169 kB)
Linkages Chart

Placemats_2018.docx.pdf (109 kB)
Placemats

Word Splash_Kindness.pdf (36 kB)
Word Splash

Agenda_From Voice to Action.docx.pdf (169 kB)
Agenda From Voice to Action

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Mar 5th, 1:15 PM Mar 5th, 2:30 PM

The Beacon in Our Journey: Next Stop: From Student Voice to Student Action

Vernon

Is it possible to reduce the achievement gap simply by implementing effective instructional practices? Francis Scott Key Middle School in Montgomery County Maryland has learned that building the cultural proficiency of teachers goes beyond classroom practices. The school’s Student Voice Project has transformed ideas about instruction by empowering students’ voices and investing in the infinite power of students’ actions.