Monday, May 16, 2016

Emily's Final Reflection

Hi Everyone!

What a great year. There were so many wonderful moments and experiences, but a few of my favorites happened right towards the end of the course. First, watching the Breaking Binary group receive such incredible reaction from teachers, students, and the public was so rewarding. They were able to see how passion and hard work lead to success...and more importantly, perhaps, to change. Just yesterday someone who showed the film in his class told the story of how a student was so moved that he started the conversation he has been afraid to have with his parents for years. Second, watching the students in my group grow as learners was amazing. This is not an easy course because of the independent nature of much of the work, and I truly think the students learned more about themselves as learners than they could have in a traditional course.

Getting to know the team I mentored was the highlight for sure. The first Saturday work session, when we were in the media lab at CVU, was a real turning point for the team. We were all able to have fun, be productive, and get to know each other a little better. It felt relaxed and purposeful. Another moment which was powerful was watching our school's GSTA watch the finished film. The students were so moved by the student voices (their own in a few places) and the way the team had made some of their own struggles come to the surface.

I'm not sure this was a challenge or an irritation, but I think an area where WtS could really grow is in instruction. As a mentor, I didn't see the results of the midyear skill reflections, but I assume there were areas where each of the students could have used some real targeted instruction and practice. It's great for students to be reflective and self-aware, but if we aren't then using that information to help them improve their skills in a really intentional way, then I think we're missing a really important component of a standards-based course.

I would like to continue to be a part of the team for sure, but I need to think about the level of commitment due to family issues that will take up time and energy in the coming year. Being a mentor is a good level for me, I think, but there were certainly times when the responsibilities and time required to do things well became significant, even at this level.

I will be around this summer, for the most part!

I have been so impressed with this course, with Bill and Tim's leadership, with the students, and with my fellow mentors. This is such a cool opportunity for students (and for us), and I hope it continues!

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