Today Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provided some priceless suggestions to Dallas ISD. Among them he suggested that any transformation requires collaboration, with teachers, parents, principals and students having input.
He is right. DISD needs to begin to listen more actively to more people. But most critically DISD must listen to students.
Such a priceless student feedback system has been in the works in DISD since 2005. That year over 300 8th graders wrote letters to themselves that are now waiting in a vault inside a DISD middle school for their 10-year reunion. This was the beginning of an annual letter writing event focused on the future. That reunion, the first of many, is now planned for November of 2014. It is only two years away.
These former students were told in 2005 that they would be asked to volunteer to speak to current students about their recommendations for success at their reunion. The were told to expect questions such as "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"
Consequently, this reunion will also be a priceless time for teachers and DISD administration to be in the audience listening as these former student speak. Maybe we can even set up a session only for teachers and DISD administrators to listen. Think of the lessons that could be learned, the information from these former students as to how well their DISD education prepared them for the world.
Such an annual feedback system needs to become normal in DISD. We must have such a system for feedback after our students have been gone a few years so they can more accurately say what they wish they had more of, or what had turned out to be of little value after leaving DISD.
We have much to learn from our students.