Category Archives: burlington high school

Purpose and Empowerment

I remember spending part of my career on my back, looking up at desktop computers trying to fix them for other teachers.  Since my job had the word technology on it, that seemed to put me in charge of anything that ran electricity.  It drove me nuts, and I used to think “this is not what I wanted to be doing with my teaching career”.  It wasn’t that I thought the work was beneath me, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I love using technology, but fixing it wasn’t my thing.

Then one student came up to me and said, “Mr. Couros do you want me to do that for you?”

My response…”Ummmmmm…yeah!”

After that, our school’s student run technology department was born and a group of students were in charge of taking care of technology needs. Not only did this take it off of my plate, but these kids LOVED doing it, and it provided a bigger purpose for them in the school.

Other schools, like Burlington High School, have their own “Help Desk” and have pushed this idea to a new level.  This is not about removing what we might hate to do as educators, but really tapping into the passions of our students.  I have seen this way beyond technology, whether it is a student welcoming committee, communications department run by students, or entire arts programs run by students.

There are so many ways that we can do this in schools, but for it to be truly successful, it has to be run by students with them having ownership over the program. This means letting them run these programs in ways that they feel best not just the way the teacher wants.  With empowerment comes ownership, and if you think about students developing as entrepreneurs, it is about more than just “doing the job”, but it is about creating their own systems through this process.

This goes way beyond the curriculum, and in my opinion, is often a much more valuable learning experience than what is in those static documents.

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