Tuesday, April 30, 2019

June Jordan School of Equity - Boma Ed Fellowship post 2

 The June Jordan School of Equity, San Francisco was the second school we visited as part of the Boma Ed Fellowship program. I have never been to a school like this and found it absolutely amazing.

This is a school that was was created when the community demanded a new school and was named by the students after it was established. June Jordan was a West Indian-American poet, teacher and activist who discussed issues of race, gender, immigration and representation. It is fitting that students chose this name -especially when you read about their 'pedagogy project' (end of this post)

The focus of the school is youth participatory action research - fighting against institutional repression. Their mission not only prepare students for college but to be agents of change.

The June Jordan School for Equity describe themselves as:

  • We are a college prep school, but we believe what kind of person you are comes before academics.
  • We are an innovative public school, but not a charter school.
  • 100% of our graduates have a strong post-secondary plan.
  • We believe working-class families and students of color deserve a private-school-quality education, in a free public school.
  • We believe that true excellence cannot be achieved without equity, or fairness to all.
It was interesting talking with students about their senior projects. Students had chosen project that were important issues to them. One student spoke about gentrification and the impact of this on his community. Another student was looking at immigration. Click here to read about the interesting students at the school, their experiences and how they are trying to make change.

The school has a beautiful community garden with kitchen on site. There was a community group working in it when we were touring the school. The aim is to provide programs on nutrition and farm to table food. They also have chickens and fruit trees.

Walking around the school the walls are covered in quotes and images that affirm their goal of social justice

This is an incredibly school that works at empowering the students to not only believe in themselves but to be the change they want to see.  They have a pedagogy project which they explain as:  "pedagogy (a fancy way of saying “the way we teach”) is expressly designed to help our students understand the forces of marginalization they have experienced growing up, and thus to begin the process of freeing themselves from oppression, including especially the internalized oppression (or self-imposed limits) which we see preventing so many students from meeting their potential."

It was an inspiring visit.

Further Information:
Student Life Video: https://www.jjse.org/student-life
Youth Summit Video: https://www.jjse.org/youth-summit-overview

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Boma Education Fellowship: High Tech High, San Diego

This is the first blog post from the Boma Education Fellowship to California, USA.  It is hard to put into words the learning experience. I have decided to write a series of posts on the different places we visited with a culminating blog post on my design for a school if anything is possible.

High Tech High, San Diego

4 Guided Principles of High Tech High

High Tech High is a school which delivers a project based curriculum with a pathway focused on tertiary study.  Teachers are on a year contract with the assumption of contract renewal. The year levels are organised into teams with approx 56 students per Team. Learning Advisory (tutor/form time) groups had approx. 14 students. Teachers are qualified in two subject areas, for example, Humanities and English or Science and Math. Each Team is responsible for designing their own timetable for the year. The 56 students are broken into two classes of 28 students. Teacher collaborate on projects to varying degrees. We spoke with a Science teacher who was team teaching with the Humanities teacher on building rockets. Students who had finished could move into a group that was filming the learning taking place.
The two classrooms had been opened up and in the centre was task:

We had been encourage to talk to students and staff. We could enter any classroom and we could approach any student/staff member. I was incredibly impressed with how articulate students were in regards to their learning. Every student I spoke to could clearly identify what they were learning, why and if they had attended a different school prior to HTH the differences. Teachers regarded themselves as the 'adult learner' in the classroom and modeled this.
Part of the HTH program are exhibitions of learning which could take place at school, in the community or within classes. For example, a group of students had the goal of raising participation during local elections. The student did a lot of learning around elections and then their 'exhibition' was being out in the community the day before the voting and sharing their knowledge to encourage people to vote. Students could also present their learning to parents, to classmates or in a forum that best suited the learning project.
Internships is part of the senior curriculum with students needing to complete approx 5 weeks of 30-40 hrs a week. Teacher are actively involved with students prior to and during the internships. 

Some images from HTH

Student work is displayed everywhere and often with QR codes to get further information or more student work. 

A summary:

  • All teachers and students are on the same page. PBL with a tertiary pathway.
  • Students are involved in the employment of teachers
  • Teachers are on 1 year contracts 
  • Students enrollment is based on application through a lottery system. Depending on the postal code/zip code depended on how many student from that area could attend. They have a system to ensure equity during the enrollment process.
  • Teachers create the timetable based on the Team they are in
  • The level of collaboration is organised between the teachers within the Team
  • Link to projects 
I was very excited to visit High Tech High and the opportunity to meet with Larry Rosenstock was amazing. Talking with staff and students it was clear to see the the school principles in play. 
It has been difficult to include everything in one post and I am sure I will write another at some point.