Early in the school year, student council members approached Principal Jeanne Rotunda asking for a day where they would conduct instruction. They petitioned, “There is no one better to communicate with students than their peers.” After much hard work, student leaders created “iMatter Day” with the support of the principal, teachers and the iZone Coach.
Teams of seventh and eighth grade students designed six dynamic workshops that inspired fellow students to take ownership not only of their education but also of their role as teenagers in the world. Student “teachers” used instructional strategies modeled daily by their teachers and designed activities to help their peers face “teen issues,” to learn about stress and its effect on the teenage body, to explore their passions, to consider their future careers, and to engage in self-expressive art.
The student council’s planning surpassed expectations and created a contagious “I can do it” attitude. Seeing their peers leading the classroom created excitement among classmates. "In Sam's workshop I learned that the world may be small, but big things can happen in it," one student expressed at the end of the day. “The presenters did a good job presenting the workshops. They were so nice and helpful,” shared a sixth grade student. When surveyed, one-third of sixth graders said they would like to run a workshop for fellow students in the spring. More than half of the sixth graders expressed interest in participating in student council.
West Side Collaborative is in its second year as a participant in the NYC Innovation Zone. This year the school deepened it’s focus on personalized learning experiences and building students’ ownership of their education. iMatter Day grew from the confidence and pro-active approach students gain from their “Base Camp” classes - a time and space dedicated to students exploring their academic and life-long goals. The students’ Base Camp guide or "coach” helps them plan their “climb” and identify strategies to navigate the terrain of their present and future learning. iMatter Day sparked students’ abilities to envision their potential as young, self-motivated leaders and provided time for students to prepare for their first-ever Student Led Conferences. Through weekly Base Camp meetings and bi-weekly individual “Office Hours” with their coach, students have thoughtfully prepared their own conferences and will be empowered to demonstrate their leadership to their families.
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