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Wichita students share ideas to improve learning Wichita student panel offers ideas to improve learning

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, at 11:22 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, at 11:22 p.m.

Don’t make us sit in the same seats every day.

Give attaboys along with corrections.

Don’t read straight out of a textbook and call it teaching. (That’s reading, not teaching.)

Explain why we’re learning things. Connect them to our futures.

Embrace technology, and use it in your classroom.

Wichita high school students offered plenty of suggestions Wednesday for ways to make teachers more effective and schools more engaging during a meeting of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, or SuperSAC.

More than 100 high-schoolers gathered at the School Service Center to share ideas and answer three questions:

• What do teachers need to know about today’s high school students to teach you more effectively?

• What can teachers and staff do to create a more engaging learning environment?

• What does your school do well to create a positive school culture and engaging learning environment?

“Be more modern with things,” said Keison Walker, a junior at Northeast Magnet High School.

“I understand trying to be cool with us and stuff, but sometimes you’ll be like, ‘Yeah, what’s up, Homey G?’ And we’re like, ‘Naaah.’ ”

“Get to know us as individuals, not just as students,” said Jordan Kelly, a senior at West High.

The student advisory group, started by former Superintendent Winston Brooks, meets at least annually.

In the past, it has weighed in on cellphones in schools, vending machines, weighted grades, school finance, classroom policies, budget cuts and attendance boundaries.

“Your input has driven some the key decisions that we’ve made as a school district,” superintendent John Allison told the students before they split into discussion groups.

“Give us your honest, true feedback, because it does make a difference.”

The students talked about what works and doesn’t work in their classrooms and schools, sometimes offering specific examples.

North High junior McKenzie Ortiz said she appreciates how her principal, Sherman Padgett, sometimes “catches” students demonstrating school spirit or doing something helpful and gives them a free “spirit” shirt.

“Like this,” McKenzie said, pointing to her red and white T-shirt, which she got for putting items into the school’s recycling bin.

Chris Vuong, a sophomore at Southeast, said he appreciates teachers who embrace technology and social media, including one who posts extra-credit opportunities on Twitter.

“That keeps us engaged, because it’s something different,” he said. “Not just the same old lecture.”

Students said teachers and school staff should attend extracurricular events, participate in spirit days, encourage school traditions and jazz up their classroom routine and decor.

“Plain walls and desks lined up in rows – that’s boring,” one student said.

And another tip: “Students love food!” said Amy Vuong, a junior at Southeast.

Incentives such as pizza or snacks, even healthy ones, can motivate high-schoolers, Vuong said.

Allison, the superintendent, said a smaller group of SuperSAC representatives will discuss the advice offered Wednesday and present it to school board members later this fall.

“They always have great input and tell you like it is,” Allison said.

“Sometimes they get discounted because they’re high school students, they’re 16- to 18-year-olds. But I think we’d be better off if we sat down and took their advice.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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