This school year we have decided to take a risk and be more intentional with our students' daily advisory period. We observed how many of our students have not been exposed to what people refer to as essential professional 21st century skills. So, this school year, we have given themes to each day of the week during "REAL Talk" and we are regularly addressing those skills. REAL Talk is the name of our student advisory time. REAL is also the acronym for our guidelines to success. Each person on our campus, whether they are staff, student, parent, or community member are expected to R = respond with respect, E = excel with effort, A = accept responsibility, and L = learn from service. Our campus culture is to "keep it REAL".
The REAL Talk theme are explained below.
"Map it out Monday"
Currently, our students can accelerate their learning and earn credits to graduate early. Each Monday our students will be monitoring their progress through their academics while also building a digital portfolios. Students, depending on which courses they are enrolled in, might be building resumes or completing research on other topics. This time is about goal setting and assessing what obstacles or stepping stones hindered or supported their successes from week to week. Our students' REAL Talk teachers will be checking with our students weekly to assess progress in the students' course work.
"Club day Tuesday"
I have heard of many schools having genius hour or flex time. This is similar in the sense that our students have choice in which club they want to be involved in at our campus. Some of the clubs we are offering our students are Audio Visual (movie making), Outdoor, Book, Photography, Creative, Maker/Tinker, and StuCo. Most of our students cannot stay after school to be involved in clubs since due to working and supporting their families. We decided to implement these with the intention to strengthen our relationships with our students. Our kids deserve a place to feel connected and we believe through shared experiences in school clubs students will receive those.
We are not a comprehensive high school and we do not have any sports teams, but we have multiple students who are/were athletes. On Competition Wednesday we have intramurals lead by our own Coach Aduddell. Coach Aduddell has spent the summer coming up with and finding creative games for our students enjoyment. We are hoping to foster a sense of collaboration and teamwork. Our students are divided up into teams and they compete in some of silly, but competitive games every week. Some weeks are board games, but most are outdoor, hands-on games. Our students who desire athletics, but are unable to participate since they attend Timber Academy High School will still get the outlet they want. By the way, rumor has it, this week we will be playing human sized Foosball! It's going to be epic.
"Workday Thursday" (WDT)
WDT is my favorite! This school year we have invited multiple influential community members to come in and share the skills they need to do their jobs. For example, we had Chris Field, founder of two non-profits and other businesses come share and empower our students to work hard and to remember the little choices we make every 30 minutes can lead to a successful lifestyle. This week we have Mr. Eduardo Mata, a project engineer from Joeris General Contractors, coming to share his journey and skills he has learned in order to be an engineer. We hope our students connect, learn, and grow with and from our guest speakers each week. There are so many great speakers coming this school year. We have tried to invite people from all walks of life. Employees from Discount Tire, a seamstress, chefs, doctors, nurses, professors, personal trainers, a yoga instructor, social workers, after school program directors, and many more. We anticipate the exposure to the multiple types of careers and training will better support our student pursue a successful post-secondary life.
"Food for thought Friday"
This is where we discuss social issues, current events, and challenge our students to be open-minded. With using tech tools like Google Apps, Kahoot, Today'sMeet, and other digital tools we have had provided each person with a voice. We believe our students thoughts, opinions, and ideas matter. So far, this has been smooth. Our conversations will be challenging, but we keep it REAL, understand others are different than us, and respect them all the same. Our desire is through these conversations we can destroy any sense of judgement, and cultivate an environment of open-mindedness and kindness.
Throughout all of the planning I kept having this conversation with myself.
It is their school, so they should enjoy it. What are we doing to make our students want to come to school. Dave Burgess's book, Teach Like a Pirate. Has me regularly asking, "If my students did not have to come to school, would they?" I am optimistic about these changes. Let's keep on making experiences for ours students so they want to be at school.