Students Love to Help, Part V

Students are the celebrity draw that can galvanize an entire community.  We see this in part when families crowd auditoriums for school concerts and plays, and when they cheer at athletic events.  Indeed, such occasions put on display a school’s important function in developing students’ potential beyond classroom learning.

Classroom learning, however, also merits public celebration and consumption–along with every other aspect of a learning institution.  We might imagine a school system that hosts an expo day on the final Friday of each month.  Students in all grades would put up displays of their academic work, or they could make presentations based on the skills and concepts they have learned.  Each month, students could take turns explaining classroom units and activities.  Much of this–even in the lower grade levels–might resemble a trade show or business convention, with booths, tables, and banners.  Students might dress in professional attire or even pour tea and coffee for attendees.

Sports, student organizations, and other extracurricular activities would also have valuable opportunities for exposure, with brief performances and demonstrations scheduled throughout the day around the school complex.  Some students might conduct tours of performance and athletic facilities, and others would serve as hosts and ushers around the school.

Also, students might assist in acquainting expo attendees with the work of the maintenance, transportation, and food service departments.  The administration and school board could also enlist children in promoting initiatives and accomplishments related to the management and governance of the school system.  We might even imagine the possibilities for school-affiliated programs such as PTA/PTO and educational foundations, as well as for community organizations such as scouts, recreation, and even municipal government.  Even further, the local business community would no doubt take an interest in expo events as opportunities for exposure and for demonstrating support for schools.

All of this does so much more than merely put young people on display.  It also invests them into an integrated whole of student and community growth.  It would infuse instruction and learning with a whole new dimension of relevance, and the privilege of participation would be contingent on meaningful performance and appropriate everyday conduct.  It would give students a sense of belonging and contribution.  It would add coherence and momentum to the activities and mission of schools.

Beyond the students, however, other immense benefits can come about.  When the wider community can witness the robust activity of our schools, taxpayers gain confidence, families believe all the more in the learning that takes place, all community members understand better the value that schools add to the town, organizations and resources come together, and ideas flourish.  More of the right things begin to flow into and out of our learning institutions, and the community becomes much more than the cliched sum of its parts.

And the students themselves are the reason for it all.

Photo credit: Cottonbro Studio/Pexels

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March 2023 Slice of Life Challenge.

9 thoughts on “Students Love to Help, Part V

  1. As I read paragraph by paragraph, I kept hearing myself say YES!! Half-way through I thought how your insight and ideas would serve you so well as an administrator. You have such a vision! I’m at a school that opened in 9/2019 and then switched to remote learning and then back in person, all while trying to create a vision. It takes time. But your slice reminds me that it takes the vision of allowing the students to be promoting all that they are about. I plan to share this with my admin team. Thanks for your great ideas!

  2. Yes, yes, and yes! Our students need to view their school as a community they live in rather than visit! You describe a place where children can try their hand at leadership and see how it fits! I’m sure these ideas are evident in your classroom, they could have been evident in our building…

  3. Paul, I love this post – – yes to the expos. We are getting ready for one with our humanities students who have created community projects that they are ready to share. That first sentence and entire first paragraph had me cheering already. They sure do! I think so much of the way that students lead. They drive us to care, to learn from them, to want to change. Everything about your post today is student-centric, exactly how learning and schools should be. Your use of the word galvanize is particularly powerful – – indeed, students galvanize communities.

    1. Thanks, Kim, for understanding me so well when I am not sure I can get my point across. You and I seem to agree: students are the whole reason we are there.

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