Break Your School Rules to Create a Better Student Experience

If the rules about what we prioritize in schools don’t work, why not change them?

There is much for educators to learn, unlearn, and even relearn to move education forward.

Lacrecia Terrance, founder and CEO of theEduProject, talked about creating a more fair and cohesive student experience in this PLtogether Lounge Talk.

Lacrecia talked with Adam Geller, Edthena founder and CEO, and the two thought through important factors for teachers and school leaders to work on to create a better student experience in the first year after COVID-19.

As a former classroom teacher, principal, and district leader, Lacrecia drew on her expertise to discuss rewriting the rules and top priorities for schools.

Watch the video of the interview above, and read on for highlights of the conversation.

Communication is the key to connection for students and families

Lacrecia emphasized the importance of communication with everyone involved in the student experience.

photo of teacher with parents and student, with quotes from Lacrecia terrance of theEduProject: "Teachers and parents and students are on a journey together."

“We have to create a cohesiveness where teachers and parents and students, where everyone is on this journey together,” she said.

Often, parent engagement feels too challenging for teachers to take on or is deprioritized. But when teachers don’t make time to talk with families, it has a negative impact. Parents, as well as community members and other stakeholders in the student experience, feel frustrated and left out.

Lacrecia says creating connection and building relationships with families are crucial to better supporting students and building a team approach to students’ education.

In order to foster successful lifelong learning, kids must be able to feel the cohesion between all aspects of their learning and life in their community.

Lacrecia underscored, “[All] have to be a part of this process.”

Teamwork doesn’t mean forgetting about the individual student

In addition to creative cohesiveness with everyone on the learning journey, Lacrecia also advocates for investing in communicating directly with students about their learning progress.

Lacrecia said, “Create space for students to be recognized individually, while they’re in those collaborative teams.”

Traditional schooling can see students as a monolith, causing some to feel lost or alone, in Lacrecia’s view. This doesn’t make for a fair game for all.

While connection and collaboration in a learning community are important, students must still feel like individuals within this.

For the student experience to be robust, teachers and school leaders must “allow space for students to be seen as an individual learner,” Lacrecia urged.

No test retakes? Rewrite that rule

In addition to building both cohesiveness and individual recognition into the student experience, Lacrecia also talked about concrete strategies for everyday classroom happenings such as assessments. image of assessment bubble sheet and pencil, with text "if failure is okay, can students retake tests"- related to the student experience

While educators “analyze data so much … [they] forget about the student looking at their own data, and that needs to change in moving forward.”

Students should be able to look at a test they’ve taken and see what they did wrong. They can reflect on how they did and how they could have done better.

The key to this is a school culture where failure is OK.

Then Lacrecia suggested, “Allow them the opportunity to do it again.”

How much could be changed about the student experience if kids were allowed to retake tests until they achieved and felt success?

Creating a fair game means rules don’t stay the same

Lacrecia also talked about setting goals for schools. These shouldn’t be general blanket statements—no need to boldly declare a mission to save the world.

Instead, rewriting this to be “specific about your school, your population of students” is what Lacrecia believes will be truly actionable.

Put the student experience before the rest of the world; it’ll be a game-changer.

Want to hear more from Lacrecia Terrance? Head over to PLtogether for more interviews from her and other education experts!

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