"When adults think of students, they think of them as potential beneficiaries of change...and rarely think of them as participants in a process of school change and organizational life." —Michael Fullan, Global Leadership Director, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning
Responding to the challenge implicit in Michael Fullan’s statement, Lakefield has the aspirational goal of becoming a school "known and recognized for our commitment to student voice" as part of its strategic direction. In Chapel last Monday, Anne-Marie Kee, Assistant Head: Academics Joe Bettencourt and Co-Head Students Emilia Voudouris and Max Brandes provided a glimpse of what such a commitment might look like. Ms. Kee first shared the changes made as a result of feedback received last year—new laundry facilities, hiring of a personal trainer to support student fitness, many improvements to food.
She then turned to feedback she had received this fall during her visits to boarding houses—dozens of comments and suggestions on food, learning, schedule, boarding life. Ms. Kee outlined three ways of responding to this feedback: student action; staff action; or communication about the rationale for no action—in this way reinforcing that students are key players in the process of change, and that education about the school-decision making process is fundamental to the Lakefield experience.
And then the action began! Our Co-Head Students outlined the areas where they would be working for change—dining hall, uniform and Sunday programming—and Mr. Bettencourt responded to schedule, extra help and new course concerns with his plan.
At Lakefield, students already view themselves as equal partners in many initiatives. In fact, in a quick informal survey completed by the students of the School Life Class last week, students identified themselves as working in an equal-partner relationship with a staff member for such diverse activities as the 1st Snowboarding team, AP Physics and AP English, university guidance, Standards, the THRIVE Jack.org project, and the Mamma Mia! production.
Adding to this list, and growing student voice and involvement as students progress from Grade 9 to Grade 12, is a challenge we’re looking forward to meeting in the next five years.