On May 20th, the Personal Education Development and Leadership (PEDaL) team at Montpelier’s Main Street Middle School took part in a retreat at the UP for Learning office. The focus of the day was to look at data collected through a survey that the team had created, posing questions to students and staff about the school’s learning environment. The survey asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements like, “Adults at this school treat students respectfully,” “Students are respectful to classmates and peers,” and “I feel safe and comfortable at this school.” The UP facilitators divided the responses into three sections, and the youth-adult team looked at each section in small groups.
They spent time examining and making observations about the data, and coming up with what they felt were the top strengths and concerns that it revealed. The teams’ discussions were thoughtful and nuanced, with many noting that, while the resulting data offered some great insights, they could take a statement like, “Students have a voice in how they get to learn,” and break it down into two further ideas: what students are being taught, versus how they are being taught. They also examined the break-down of responses, noting that frequently there was a 50/50 split between “agree” and “disagree,” and remarked that this was probably because they had not offered an option for a “neutral” response.
The team then came back together as a full group and shared out what they saw as their top strengths and concerns. One of the strengths the team identified was that of the 106 respondents, 83% feel that adults treat students respectfully. One result that the group viewed as a concern is that 35% of students do not think that staff are available for their needs. After a four square game break outside, the team broke into two committees to plan their next steps, with one group focusing on creating a slideshow containing their survey analysis that they will share with the Main Street community, and the other making a plan to visit the school’s 5th grade to recruit youth for next year’s PEDaL team. At the end of the retreat, students shared how meaningful the team has been for them this spring, with many 8th graders expressing excitement about joining the youth-adult team at the high school.