Yesterday Rich Parisi and I spent some time at LaFayette Jr. High here in Central New York talking Power2Achieve.
Before I tell you what happened, here’s a bit of the backstory…
LaFayette is a relatively small Jr/Sr. high school just outside of Syracuse. They have a diverse student population and face many of the resource and funding challenges that are (all too) typical of many rural schools across the US. We’re able to work with LaFayette Jr. High thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Central New York. The grant also includes Cathedral Academy at Pompei, an inner-city K-8 Catholic school in Syracuse and Bishop Grimes High School, a suburban Catholic high school that includes many working class families. Pretty cool mix for one project, right?
The project entails initial professional development training on a batch of Power2Achieve Tools along with other work depending on the schools needs. For example, in November I spoke to the faculty at Bishop Grimes about how to use the Power2Achieve Integrity-in-Action Checklist to discuss the issues of cyberbullying & sexting with their students. (you can read more about that here). Today Rich Parisi will be at a Cathedral faculty meeting to work more with the teachers, counselors, and aides on using Power2Achieve Tools with students. Again, pretty cool mix of work within one project.
So what’s happening at LaFayette?
In January, the entire Jr. high faculty came to IEE for an afternoon session to learn more about the P2A Compact-4-Excellence, the P2A Portable Compact-4-Excellence and the P2A Attitude-Effort-Improvement Rubric.
One of the plans hatched during that session was to have the entire 7th and 8th grade, 94 students total, get together and develop a Jr. High Compact-4-Excellence. Great idea! The challenge was who would facilitate it…and that’s when all eyes turned to me.
So two weeks ago I found myself at LaFayette Jr. High in front of a room full of Jr. high students. (Just before starting, one of the teachers came up to me and said, “I’ll pray for you.” While being in front of 94 middle school students for 3 hours is a somewhat intimidating thought, the students were awesome and we had a great session).
The students started off by answering a question on index cards: What do you want out of this (your experience at this school)? I had volunteers share a few of their answers, then collected the cards. Later in the day someone at the school typed them up into a list.
We talked about everything from Google to the Superbowl, but mostly we talked about what kind of school they wanted to have. The students worked in small groups of 5, in teams of 20, and as an entire group to come up with a Compact-4-Excellence, which the students then signed in Declaration of Independence style.
Want to see what they wrote? Here’s a doc that shows how they answered the question that started off the day (it needs a bit more editing, but you’ll get the idea) and then shows the Compact they came up with. Check it out by clicking here!
That’s not all though…
Yesterday we found out that the Jr. high teachers have come up with a system to have students self-evaluate for every subject area using the P2A Attitude-Effort-Improvement (AEI) Rubric! The students sit down with at least one, usually multiple teachers, talk through a self-evaluation as they plot their current state of performance on the AEI Rubric, then flip their sheet over to identify goals for the semester and steps they need to take to achieve those goals. Another really cool tidbit—the teachers are reporting that the the students are exceptionally open and honest in sharing their reflections on attitude and effort. In other words, teachers are hearing things from Jr. high students like “I know I’m not trying that hard, and I know I can get better.” Turns out that when given the opportunity and a guided way to reflect, students can often point directly to the root cause of their academic challenges, and will follow that up by setting up steps to improve!
Incredible work by the teachers coming up with this, and such an awesome impact their work is having on entire school community!
Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon from a LaFayette teacher describing exactly what they’re doing, and the “how” and “why” behind it!