Recently, I presented a session on genius hour at the #Arcadiainnovation Summit. With a little sweet talking - and promises that teachers would be hanging onto their every word, I was able to convince 2 seventh grade girls to join my session - even though they were on summer vacation. Let the games begin!
This was actually a huge success - and not a failure as many first tries can be - however, it was a risk to bring in two students. The results were amazing. Having experienced genius hour from a student point of view, the girls were able to share with the teacher audience what it meant to them, what they learned, and what their struggles were. They were able to answer teacher questions even if I didn't always agree with what they said. What a powerful experience for all involved. Teachers got to feel the enthusiasm the students had for genius hour and their trepidation of entering 8th grade knowing it may not continue. The students got to share their passion with a live, authentic audience and get positive feedback. In addition, they continued to practice all of the skills we worked on this year including public speaking.
Bringing in student experts into teacher PD is a risk. They are loose cannons and can say anything. I'm ok with that because they are sharing their reality. The positives of this experience for all outweigh what some might view as negatives. As educators continuing to ponder student voice, empowerment and authentic experiences, please consider adding student experts to your professional development experiences.