When asked, I am confident that few adults would choose to go back and re-live their young adolescent, middle school years. This is an awkward time, to say the least – a time where every insecurity feels insurmountable, where middle school students feel like all eyes are on them or the blemish on their chins. When in fact, each student is focused on his or her self – his or her feelings, his or her issues, his or her worries and joys.
For the past two years, Vikan Middle School’s Unified Improvement Plan’s major improvement strategies are engaging and empowering our students in their learning and fostering an inclusive learning environment where students feel safe to take risks. These goals are interconnected so deeply that they are not mutually exclusive. Instead, each goal is dependent on the other to create an environment that enables our students to be able to fully show up and participate in their education. If our students don’t feel that safety of community in their school, they may not be able to fully do what it takes to be vulnerable in stating their idea regardless of it being “right” or “wrong”.
It is with these goals in mind that we look at the ACYI Adams County Student Survey for our students’ feedback of how many of our students feel they have at least one adult at school they trust. We want to know that if there is a serious concern they have for a friend, for themselves, or for our school community, and that they will report it to keep themselves and our school community safe. The data provided from this survey are extremely helpful to us as we measure the perceptions of our students.
If you are an educator, you know that teaching is harder than rocket science. Rocket science is a hard science where one can take the principles and theories and predict with accuracy what the results will be. But, teaching is a social science where each student contains their own unique variables. The principles and strategies that are effective with one student, may not be effective with others. So as we work to preserve the dignity of each child, establish positive relationships, foster trust between students and our staff, and build a culture of learning within our school, the data we receive from ACYI is one invaluable measure of our progress.
– Trina Norris-Bick, Ed. S.
Trina Norris-Buck, a Colorado native, is the Principal at Vikan Middle School in Brighton, Colorado. She has been an educator for 25 years and has spent 20 of them at the middle level. She has two adolescents of her own at home and 600 plus at work. She loves to read, walk, sing, cook and spend time with her family.