By Antonio Perez
On September 25th, 2018, WHSAD’s Intervisitation team had the privilege to host its first intervisitation of the year. Students on the team took guests from The Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering and East Williamsburg Scholars Academy to classes of their choosing to examine the overall environment and feel of each classroom. Most importantly, visitors observed students at work to get a sense of how engaged students were in discussion and whether they were actively listening.
These observations allowed teachers to gain valuable feedback regarding what they can do to enhance the experience for students and improve discussion and how to integrate autonomous values into the roots of the class. An example of this is teachers providing more textual and or structural resources for students to use in class. This is beneficial to students and teachers alike because it enriches students knowledge, and rather than students be told answers from teachers, resources can help students get a stronger understanding of the material and learn from their mistakes, then eventually answer the question independently.
Autonomy is an essential value because it allows students the opportunity to not depend on others but on themselves for answers. This permits students to better prepare themselves for real situations where there is no one who can offer assistance to them, such as a test. But also autonomy applies to the real world, especially in work environments where you need to complete tasks.
The values that are implemented into the core of WHSAD and its classrooms help students to improve consistently in many levels, and this is something that makes WHSAD an amazing place to learn. The lessons and values which are taught to students aren’t only relevant in class environments but can relate to the outside world, whether it be at work or when conversing with a friend, WHSAD prepares you for the future. And this specifically is a factor that stands out to many and one that stood out in discussion amongst the intervisitation team. The students feel comfortable in the classroom and this results in more students being engaged with the lesson, with their peers, with their teachers, and eventually use their provided resources to engage with students in meaningful discussion and inquiry about the topics in class.
Ariana Lowery, a WHSAD ambassador and junior, has this to say about her experience while participating in intervisitation: “I personally enjoyed my experience today with the team and the teachers from other schools. I was able to learn a lot about how WHSAD functions and how certain values play a key element in classes. Being able to observe lessons and then later discuss what we believed stood out was essential in developing a discussion about how WHSAD functions and helped me learn about what we as a community could improve for our benefit. I could take what I learned and actually apply it to the classroom environment and teach my peers what we could do to improve autonomy and our learning experiences.”
Jonah Vazquez, another WHSAD ambassador and junior, said, “Today was a monumental day in establishing what we as a community could do to improve our classrooms. Not only that but we were able to learn from critical feedback from our visitors what we also excelled in and how possibly we could use that to improve in other sections. An example of such is classroom discussion and how a select few of students may be isolated from these discussions, which is negative because we want all students to have the same beneficial experience in class, and being isolated can negatively impact a student’s learning experiment. By rearranging seats and placing students in groups we could increase meaningful discussion and stop students from being isolated. This improvement of classroom environments could only improve not only my experience at WHSAD but everyone’s, and this very equal opportunity is an element which I feel represents WHSAD at its core and its values.”