Dr. Boyes, together with her colleagues on the IBSC Board Research Committee (Caitlin Munday and Hugh Chilton, The Scots College (Australia); Ross Featherston, Brighton Grammar School (Australia); Peter Coutis, Scotch College (Australia); Sandra Boyes, Crescent School (Canada); Kim Hudson, St. Christopher's School (United States) presented a workshop on developing a research centre.
During the session, team members defined research investment as it exists within IBSC member schools and explored the role of the IBSC Research Committee in supporting and enabling it.
Ms. Cislak, along with colleagues, Andrew Stark from The Southport School (Australia) and Pooja Mathur from The School (Australia) presented a workshop promoting the value of books and libraries in the lives of our boys.
Our school libraries are becoming multi-faceted, spaces for learning and growing. The resources we offer and promote provide boys with the opportunity to positive pathways for self-realization and academic success. This interactive workshop, featuring 3 librarians from Australia and Canada, will explore the valuable contribution literature can make to develop boys to young men of character. We aspire to reinforce Dr. Rudine Sims’ theory of windows and mirrors in literature and what role this paradigm can play in a boy's personal development. With direct reference to specific examples of literature we will explore the notions of Identity, Othering and Tribalism and how they form and inform his Path to Manhood. Ms. Cislak also presented this workshop to her Crescent colleagues.
Schools exist to serve the needs of students. And yet, rarely in our school reform efforts do we ever ask students what they need. What does it look like when students have a voice in shaping the policies and practices at their schools? How might we elicit the experiences and perspectives of all students – not just a token few – so that the changes we enact result in richer learning, deeper engagement, and a shared sense of belonging?
Challenge Success, a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford University, has worked with countless schools over the past 18 years that tend to treat students as beneficiaries and not necessarily collaborators of their school reform efforts. Involving students can feel onerous. Adults and students may not know how to listen to one another in productive ways and how to include all students in the data gathering and analysis process. Questions of power abound, including what to do when there is a clear divide between what the students desire and what the adults believe is feasible.
Despite these challenges, the research is clear about the benefits of including students in classroom and school-based decision processes. Students often have lived experiences that allow them unique insights, and they can foresee how a change may inadvertently hamper their learning or well-being. For instance, when one school was working on a new schedule, it was the students that realized that the shortened lunch period would lead to untenably long lines. At another school, students shared that the proposed homework policy wouldn’t address the issue of busywork, which was their primary concern.
Engaging students in systems-level decisions has also been shown to increase student agency and belonging, especially for students from historically underrepresented populations in independent schools. Including students in this process helps to support real-life skill development such as collaboration, communication skills, creativity, and adaptability. Finally, including students in the change process can increase student buy-in and support for the change, which ultimately improves chances for the initiative to be successful.
Using Crescent School as a case study, we will model how the school centered students in the school reform process. We will explore how Crescent School used student surveys, focus groups, and other listening protocols to identify a number of potential reform efforts, including the implementation of a semester-based course schedule. In this session, participants will hear directly from Crescent students and leaders – both to understand the power of student voice and to highlight the real advantages and challenges of using this model. We will then ask participants during a self-study exercise to consider where in their own schools or classrooms they might begin to include student voices to improve the school change process.