What Are We Saying?

After reading, Meaningful Change Is On All of Us by George Couros I was interested in designing a learning activity to create a discussion for our staff.  The portion of the George’s post that I was most drawn to was the link to Your School’s UX.  What Is It? And Where Do We Start by @irasocol and this was my starting point.

While many of our staff discussions focus on what is best for kids, we rarely ask the question “what are the kids experiencing?”  We wanted to create an activity (based on @irasocol’s post) that would have our staff focus on the user experience of our kids.  At our department head meeting we had the staff do a Learning Walk and we created this notes sheet (What Are We Saying Learning Walk) along with some questions to consider.  We asked them to answer these questions and discuss what their experience from the viewpoint of a student at our school.  We gave them 20 minutes to walk and then we would meet back and discuss.

The staff discussion led us in many different directions but the feedback provided was interesting.  A few of the points that I will reflect on:

  • Staff discussed that they had to remind themselves that they are supposed to do the exercise from the viewpoint of a student.  I talked about this before the learning walk but I should have explained what I wanted to do in the discussion portion of the activity more clearly and this would have helped staff understand.
  • There was lots of focus on entry ways and hallways and not as much feedback about classrooms.  I was hoping that we could discuss what a classroom “says” as you sit in the classroom.  We did have one group provide some feedback in this area and it was a very rich comparison between how they felt in classrooms.  We were able to talk about welcomeness, warmth, visual stimulus/self-regulation and inclusiveness from these comments.  If I were to do this activity again I would provide their feedback as an example.
  • If people were to use Google maps to find our school based on the listed address they would arrive at a location that has no signs indicating the name of the school or welcoming them to the school.  What folks would consider the main entrance of our school is actually the “back” of the school based on street address.  We need to look at how we improve our street address “welcome”.
  • We did this activity after school when students had already left the building.  Would this activity been better if we did it during the school day?  How can we collect student feedback in a more meaningful way?

Viewing school from our students’ experience is a different viewpoint and one that we will continue to discuss on our staff.  This learning activity was okay for a first attempt and sparked some good discussion; however, we need to make a few adjustments before the next time we use this activity with staff.

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