Build A Team. Create Action at the Local Level

Why a Team?

Many people are concerned about schools. Parents want good opportunities for their children. Community members support schools through taxes and view school as the most important institution for a healthy community. Students want more choice of what and how they learn. Educators (teachers, administrators and local school boards) are responsible for implementing practices which ensure learning, personal development, and social awareness for all.

Student Voice

Students have traditionally had little opportunity to express their needs. Instead, meeting needs of students – the purpose of school – has largely been assumed and lately become extremely standardized, as if all students (people) were the same. This history suggests that for school change to be successful, students may want some time and space together to crystalize ideas for improving their school experience. For these change ideas to be implemented, partnerships with educators, parents, and the larger community will be necessary.

Getting Started

Some concerns may be easy to identify: food in the cafeteria is unappetizing; school should start later in the morning; too much homework! You may not have thought much about other concerns, assuming things HAD to be that way.

  1. Check out Assess Your School.
  2. Identify your main concerns in the assessment.
  3. What would my friends say?
  4. What would people I never talk with say?

Team success will depend on unity among students, representing all the diverse groups in a school, seeing the big picture.

Many Leaders are Required

Questions to Consider

  1. How will we get students with different perspectives together?
  2. What are the different groups at our school?
  3. For each group, who knows somebody they can reach out to personally?
  4. We also need to recruit students at every grade level.
  5. When & where will we have our first meeting at a comfortable place?
  6. Ask people to answer Assess Your School before coming to the meeting.
  7. Who will research school rules for forming a club? Like, do we need a sponsor?
  8. Who will develop an agenda for the meeting, to be approved by all at the start?
  9. Who will list discussion guidelines to be approved and posted?

Start with Why

  • WHY do we want change?
  • WHY do we think people should listen to us?
  • WHY are these years in high school so important to us?
  • WHY do I not feel confident in my abilities?

Effective Groups

  • Make decisions using principles of  WIN – WIN
  • Use inclusive practices: communicate clearly and constantly to everyone
  • Develop positive relationships:  comfort to be me; collaboration with others is exciting and produces inspiring results.
  • Give up obsessing on the negative (It comes from powerlessness in the past.)


I hate school.
I hate school.
I hate school;

Shift From

We’re expected to learn as passive recipients of info given to us by the teacher;

Shift To

We believe students need to decide areas of interest, own the process of inquiry, and demonstrate learning;

For other Up For Learning shifting ideas

Read More on Page 5

Meeting Tips

  • One person speaks at a time
  • Ask if you wonder
  • No shame, no blame
  • Stay focused
  • Be fully present
  • Listen with an open mind
  • Speak your truth
  • Share the air time
  • Give gentle reminders (if others stray from these agreements)

Ways Meetings Can Get Creative

School Reform Initiative  describes mind opening activities to use in meetings. Check them out and see which one you like best.

Change ActivityKiva ProtocolLiar’s Poker