TAKING TAKING BACK BACK THE THE CLASSROOM CLASSROOM
CENTERING STUDENTS TRANSFORMING CLASSROOMS DREAMS FOR NORTHSIDE EDUCATION
The Northside Research Team engages young people in doing research that produces better data, brings young peoplesâ€™ perspectives and energy to important issues, and helps organizations center themselves around the youth they serve.
For more information or to get involved visit
Since 2016, the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota has chiefly invested in the creative and strategic genius of the North Minneapolis community around issues of economic development and education.
Juxtaposition Arts envisions the youth of North Minneapolis entering the creative workforce as dynamic innovators and problem solvers with the confidence, skills and connections they need to accomplish their educational and professional goals, and to contribute to the revitalization of the communities where they live and work.
PHILLIPS FAMILY FOUNDATION
Working with an advisory committee that included Northside students, parents, teachers and alumni, the Phillips Foundation made a number of early grants to support studentcentered learning initiatives at North Minneapolis schools. These ranged from $11,000 to $45,000 and are intended to support the first year of a new project
Maker spaces at North High School and Franklin Middle School
Teacher professional development at North and Franklin
RESEARCH / GOALS / FUNDING Support for a project at PYC and
Phillips Family Foundation’s goal is to utilize the research findings and proposed solutions to inform and shift our grant-making in North Minneapolis as we seek to help schools become more student centered and to expand ownership opportunities for African Americans. The Foundation also encourages other funders who support work in North Minneapolis to reflect on this research. Feel free to reach out to our staff with any questions or comments on this work. WE WANT TO FUND IDEAS THAT ARE
BOLD FOCUSED & HIGH RISK/ HIGH REWARD
Tech High School to engage students to co-design their world history classes this spring
Training teachers from Patrick Henry High School on how to use project based learning better
Support for Reve Academy, a digital career exploration program, to co-teach a web design course at North
In the fall of 2017, the Foundation plans to award
YOUTH PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH (YPAR)
planning grants to North Minneapolis middle and high schools. These will support ambitious, school-wide
YPAR centers those closest to the issue. As Northside residents and community members that have attended schools in North Minneapolis, Youthprise’s Northside Research Team and Juxtaposition Arts apprentices are experts and so are the youth and teachers we interviewed. We are passionate about transforming the current educational system. Using the design process, we wanted to put people closest to the issue in charge of finding solutions.
transformation plans that strive to improve studentteacher relationships and make learning more studentcentered. The Foundation hopes to award larger implementation grants to one or more schools in 2018.
MAY - JUNE 2017 PHASE 1 METHOD:
Q'S TO TEACHER Growing up, what type of learning style did you prefer? Did your learning style impact the way you teach? How do you establish a safe learning space for all?
FOCUS GROUPS AND INTERVIEWS
Q'S TO STUDENT Student Focus Groups (5)
PYC (1), n = 7
n = 11
PHHS (1), n = 8
What environment do you learn best in?
PYC (1), n = 4
NCHS (3), n = 25
Would you say that teachers try and engage students in the classroom? Why or why not?
PHHS (1), n = 4
Q'S TO TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
n = 12
How did your focus groups define student centered learning? What type of partnership is needed between students and teachers to make student centered learning work?
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Student-Teacher Focus Groups (2)
FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS
35 North Minneapolis
26 - 30 y. 2 HOME
African American/ Black
White/ European American
1 - 3 y.
15+ y. 1
African American/ Black
White/ European American
PHASE 2 METHOD:
5 - 10 y. 3
Overall our projected sample size for all three schools were not met. Also, the 40 student focus group participants are not a representative sample of the overall student population of North Minneapolis Schools. In particular, Asian students are underrepresented.
Time limitations, outreach to students and teacher availability.
FOR THE FUTURE
Establish better relationships with the schools. Begin outreach and project earlier in the year.
SOLUTION DESIGN WORKSHOP
On June 19, JXTA, Youthprise, and the Then, working in groups of After brainstorming, each group shared their strongest ideas by Phillips Family Foundation hosted a solution five or six, attendees acting out two short scenes: design workshop where students, teachers, and brainstormed solutions to one before the solutions are committee members gathered together to learn the issues and opportunities implemented and one after. the findings of the focus groups and interviews. that arose in the research.
The following pages detail many of the ideas that the groups shared.
Imagining Solutions in Action In the first scene, a mother receives a phone call from her son's teacher. She is calling to tell her that her son is failing classes, acting out, and is at risk of not graduating. The mother replies by saying, "You have him eight hours; you teach him." The teacher implies that the mother is at fault, as she cannot reach him. This scenario illustrates that it is unproductive to shift the blame; all parties should be working together on a better outcome for the student.
Home visits and conversations between teachers and parents should take place when a student is doing well, not just when they are struggling. This can help the student and the parent feel more engaged. In the alternate scene, a mother receives a phone call from her son’s teacher. The teacher requests a home visit to update the mother on her son’s status at school. The mother receives news that her son is doing well and being recommended for honors courses. The teacher wants to encourage open dialogue between her, the mother, and the student to continue to encourage his success. In this scenario, a home visit is used to celebrate a student’s accomplishments rather than to discipline for “falling” too behind.
In the first act, a teacher and teaching assistant lead a class for a group of disinterested students, one of who was dozing off and the other two who are having a conversation on their own. The instructors are lecturing at them, not providing context or further explanation when students have questions. They assign papers that are not relevant, and do not take student preferences and interests into account. The teacher and teaching assistant compare students. Rather than providing support, the teacher has students figure things out with each other: “Ask him; he’s smart. Y’all can figure it out.”
Collaboration, one-on-one support, and relevant teaching topics help keep students engaged and able to feel comfortable asking questions when something is not clear rather than feeling helpless or start disengaging.
In the alternate act, the teacher and teaching assistant provide thorough explanation of assignments then ask if students want to hold one-on-one conversations for further support and clarification. They are open to student input and going over topics that are not traditionally taught, "teaching something new and teaching real history," and encouraging collaboration/discussion amongst students.
SOLUTIONS During the Solution Design Workshop, students, teachers and members of the Phillips Family Foundation’s Education Advisory Committee brainstormed these solutions to the issues raised in interviews and focus groups.
RELEVANCE - SOLUTIONS
Increasing Relevance Many students voiced engagement in
Life class, with focus on applicable life skills and home economics
the classroom when teachers covered “truth” in history classes. They
Incorporate current events into classes
expressed a desire to see current Teaching “real”, little known history and more kinds of
events covered in social studies
classes, to read books and poems from Teach students how to research and learn the things
folks from similar identities and to learn
they want, instead of teaching content alone
more about their own ethnic/racial More diverse language classes: German, etc.
Creative Teaching Models
history and cross-cultural histories.
TEACHING MODELS - SOLUTIONS Have one day a week with an innovative seminar in
Students voiced wanting teachers to incorporate peer learning, technology, and multimedia approaches to their lesson plans. They also asked for clearer expectations for assignments.
the morning and tutorial/one-on-one times with teachers in the p.m.
More electives for all, four classes a day, more responsibility on the student
Student squads- interns according to topic: a student lead team to vouch for the student voice and teaching modes
Varying learning groups sizes
Institutional Practices and Barriers Teachers have said they wanted to incorporate more creative approaches to their curriculum but donâ€™t have enough examples that have been used in the actual classrooms. Also teachers mentioned state standards barriers and lack of paid time to craft curriculum. Students asked for a specified time in the beginning of the year where students share what they expect to learn and what they want to learn, and at the end of the year an opportunity to share classroom experiences and to evaluate teacher performance.
PRACTICES AND BARRIERS - SOLUTIONS Prevent scheduling errors so students start each term in correct classes
Safe zones for students when having a bad day or needing a break
Work-study programs (run by students: cleaning, security)
More interdisciplinary opportunities
Teachers should be devoted and supportive: passion is contagious and engaging
SPACE AND SETUP - SOLUTIONS
Classroom Setup and Physical Space
Interdisciplinary STEM projects based in students doing the teaching in an environment with open space and moving walls
Students discussed that having a smaller teacher to student ratio would make them feel seen and not like they could disappear in the background. They described wanting a classroom that had a "homey" feeling with lots of sunlight.
More student work on display
Theater spaces for
SPACE AND SETUP - SOLUTIONS
performance and presentation Make an environment that is decorative, homey, Schools in each district sharing pools, dance studios, etc.
personal Students help design the classroom Make physical school look like a community with things like class pictures, pictures of teachers and colorful walls Personalize rooms with couches and engaging fidget games Improve basic school climate: air conditioning and HVAC
IONS T U L N - SO O I T EC
Students and teachers voiced the importance of taking the time to get to
ers teach ween e bet im t ne on-o lish Oneestab ts to tuden ins, and s r beg e yea as th s ip ionsh out relat rough ue th in t n o and c
know students and to learn about student home life. Students also made a point that teachers are sometimes a mystery to them. Getting to know about teachers as people in their community makes it easier to respect and trust teachers. Students
best e the ssum ust a m rs he , get Teac sume n’t as o d : s ent t stud abou ow to kn
emphasized the importance of building connections with their teachers in the first two weeks of school, and how this could impact communication throughout the school year.
Create rela tionship m apping for students to understa nd networ ks and reso urces Make mor e space to ask and an swer questions
Create op portunities
for shared experienc es out of th e classroo m (no hierarch y)
STUDE NT VO IC SOLU E / SUPPO TIONS RT Re
Student Voice & Support Hav
Students want to feel safe and heard, and have more opportunities for open communication with teachers in the classroom and after-school. Many teachers also noticed how students want to voice concerns and have a safe space to do that. Participants also desired mutual trust between students and teachers for constructive criticism. Students expressed their need for smaller classrooms and one-on-one’s with teachers. Students want more classes that ask them about their preferred learning styles and positive learning experiences. Similarly, teachers expressed lack of time towards end of year and that big classes mean less individualized time.
eal spe ak t o th “Edu e tru cati th on i s po wer ”
acc ess to ta lk
to te ac
hers outs ide
Cla sses on w ell-b eing
Accountability Teachers and students both discussed accountability at length. Students need a system where they can hold teachers accountable to follow through on stated with their teaching and disciplinary methods. Many discussed wanting to be part of the process in determining consequences and classroom culture. Teachers also expressed the need for students to hold themselves accountable in the classroom when it comes to disruptions andassignment completions.
SHOUTOUTS AND THANK YOU TO
ACCOUNTABILITY SOLUTIONS Teacher professional development: how to deal with behavior, help
Northside Students, Teachers and
students stay on
Community Members, especially students
task, and get the
and teachers who participated from:
help they need
- PYC Arts & Technology High School - Patrick Henry High School
Telling parents when something is done very well
- North Community High School & Members of the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundationâ€™s Education Advisory Committee
YPAR RESEARCHERS Irina Barrera Christopher Colbert Sharia Cook Demetrius Compton Arianna Dobbins-Hall Cameron Downey Adrienne Doyle Tatiyana Gross
NADIA LINOO & KHIN OO
PHOTOGRAPHS NADIA LINOO
Amairani Jonapa Nadia Linoo Kymari Love Kristen Murray Darius Powell De'Arreon Robinson Tyson Trueblood