Wolf Creek Public Schools’ division office in Ponoka was a busy place recently as 44 junior and senior high school students representing 10 schools from across the jurisdiction converged to share their thoughts about education.
The students were part of the second Speak Out session held in Wolf Creek Public Schools.
Speak Out is an Alberta Education initiative launched in 2008. Speak Out “has created both a space and a means to allow students ages 14 to 19 from across Alberta to reflect on and discuss their education with each other and with key stakeholders who can actually make a difference,” according to the Speak Out website
The first Speak Out session in Wolf Creek, hosted by Ponoka Composite High School last October, was a rewarding experience for both the students and educators involved. Its success prompted Wolf Creek to organize another Speak Out session, this time focusing on the multitude of student voices from around division, including students in rural schools, small schools, and those in an outreach setting.
Brent Galloway, AISI co-ordinator of instruction and assessment for Wolf Creek Public Schools, organized the second Speak Out session.
“Speak Out is about giving students a voice to talk openly about their learning environments. It is also an opportunity for them to work collaboratively with others from around the school division and to take ownership as to what we all need to do to improve learning in our schools,” Galloway explained.
“I was extremely impressed with the students in that they demonstrated enthusiasm, intelligence and most importantly – a willingness to share. Their voices tell us that they like to be active learners with a preference for interacting with others through choice and differentiated instructional approaches.”
Kara Langen, a student from Lacombe Outreach School, found her participation in the Speak Out session to be a worthwhile experience.
“I was able to talk with other students about both my and their opinions about the school system, and by doing so I managed to form some new thoughts and ideas. It was interesting to hear how opinions varied, yet remained generally similar in their essence.”
“I hope this Speak Out session marks the beginning of an annual event, and I hope many other students will have a chance to participate in a Speak Out session. What I wanted when agreeing to attend was for my opinions to be heard by those in a position to change things, because it seems to me that students know what is best for their learning experience.”
Over the course of the Speak Out session, the participating students were asked to comment on four questions:
1. What does it look like when you are learning at your best?
2. What is holding you back from learning at your best?
3. What actions can adults take to improve how education looks and feels?
4. What actions can students take to improve how education looks and feels?
Jennifer Massing, a student from Mecca Glen School, also took part in the Speak Out session. “I hope that they really take into consideration what we thought about while answering the questions. I thought that all of us really spoke our minds about the topics and if they take this information in and things change, it will definitely be for the betterment of all the students and teachers in Wolf Creek Public Schools.”