Updates from the field: BFA Fairfax

By February 5, 2016 Blog

The BFA group is in the process of putting together a video of the interesting things students are doing in their school that others might not know about, opportunities they have that aren’t really public knowledge. “The goal of the video is to document what’s already happening in the school in terms of flexible learning, some of the ways that kids are taking the initiative to guide their own learning,” said junior Bailey Halliday.

Bailey and junior Moses Delaine listed some of the students they have interviewed: a trip to Haiti that people have taken with their church, virtual high school classes that people are taking online, independent studies where they’re basically teaching themselves, people who are taking college classes, or early college, and people taking tech that they’re planning to talk to soon.

A good example of interesting things is one student teaching another student guitar. That came out of one wanting to learn it and another who has a lot of talent teaching it. What they were doing was finally recognized and they were able to do it for credit. “It’s a real concrete example of a leap from a traditional learning situation having to have a teacher and take place in a very structured way. This is more students working together—one’s the instructor, one’s the student—to try to figure out what that learning looks like, what the proficiencies are for that learning,” said Paul Chapman, Student Assistance Program Director.

The group has done interviews with student-run programs such as Coffee House for student performances. They are entirely student-run. “We have done four or five interviews with people who are involved with that,” said Bailey. “It’s gotten a lot bigger over the last couple of years where people have gotten involved in it, which is good, so we’re trying to spread the word.”

“We also have some student support groups that Paul runs,” said Moses. “It’s called Peer Support, and it’s students within the community who are kind of like mini-guidance counselors who can talk to people in the right way when they are having a rough day, or something like that.”

The completed video will show the ways that students are self-directing their learning in flexible options. “I think that’s the goal at this stage of the video,” said Bailey. “ ‘Hey, look at all this cool stuff we’re already doing’.”

“It’s an easy way to show people that flexible pathways is not scary,” said Paul. “We’re already doing it in a lot of cases, so it’s easier to show examples in our own school. It’s a little less frightening when people can say, ‘Oh, that’s what it means’.”

The tentative show date for the video is April when they will show it in support block to the whole high school. “We’re still doing interviews and honestly still thinking about more people to interview as we go,” said Bailey. “We’re still definitely in the editing stage.”

“We talked about ultimately having a website with this video being part of the kick-off to that,” said Katherine McElroy, High School Counselor. “We haven’t talked about how we would bring it to the community yet, but that’s probably the next stage of the discussion.”

Sue Trecartin, UP for Learning, 2/05/16