On the heels of both #BLC14 and #VLConf2014, where we (those present and those of us who watched from afar) repeatedly heard messages around the importance of understanding what works in education, getting feedback from students to teachers on their teaching, having the courage to fail forward, and finding ways to make our thinking visible, I reflected on my past year and those times when I took the risk to really hear the students.
Here is one of those times.
The students in the above picture graduated high school between 2005 and 2011. They responded to a general invitation to speak to current students in their former school about the transition from high school to post-secondary.
We called this event an Academic Panel Discussion: The High School University Connection.
We had never done this before, but we needed something to inspire our students to engage in their learning.
We couldn’t be sure of the outcome. Yes, we provided the panelists the questions, but there was really no way to guarantee that the resulting conversation would be useful/positive/meaningful. We asked:
1. Looking back to the beginning of your university career, what aspect of the transition from high school to university challenged you?
2. In what ways did the work you did in high school merge, connect, or continue in university?
3. What skills did you learn in high school that you rely/relied on in university?
4. What skills did you learn in high school, but that you later wished you had practised more while in high school?
5. What skills did you learn in high school that you did not use in university?
6. What would you now tell your 16 year-old self to focus on?
The conversation went on for 45 mins. The feedback was authentic, meaningful, and personal. And everyone listening in that room that day was changed. (More on this in another post to come.)
Would you be willing to take the risk? What opportunity for feedback are you willing to create?