Kick Start Your Classroom with K-TECH (Part 3): Four Tips for Authentic Student Empowerment

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA

Know | Trust | Empower | Connect | Honor

Teachers are always looking for ways to improve classroom management. The K-TECH framework offers teachers quick and effective strategies which will help build the foundation for a safe and purposeful classroom for everyone – students and staff. K-TECH is the acronym KnowledgeWorks uses for integrating characteristics of a safe and purposeful school environment into overall school improvement. K-TECH is aligned with major youth development initiatives including Josepshon Institute’s Six Pillars of Character and Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets. K-TECH was originally created by Ohio’s Center for Essential School Reform as part of its Framework for Building Safe and Serious Schools.

Empowering Students in Authentic Ways

Students who feel authentically empowered within their classroom and school are more engaged in the work and demonstrate better behavior as well as higher achievement. Authenticity is the key. Students are quite adept at identifying when a teacher or leader is really giving them responsibility over their learning and learning environment.

  •  Negotiate contracts and co-create assessment rubrics. Students can and will rise to the occasion when given opportunities to create ground rules for classrooms and co-creating rubrics. This doesn’t mean giving them the keys to the city. It’s not a free for all. It is a process for teaching youth the art of negotiation – a critical life skill. Here is one teacher’s website for co-creating rubrics.
  • Provide opportunities for choice within classroom assignments and projects. My sons’ 8th grade teacher offered 4 to 5 different ways to demonstrate mastery at the end of reading the novel The Outsiders. One son is pretty creative and artistic and chose accordingly. Another son is a little more analytic so he chose a different route. My nephew had the same teacher and chose the traditional essay because that best fits his personality. What a great way to reach all kinds of learners. Randall Sampson offers more in-depth information on how to approach differentiated instruction.
  • Encourage youth to lead school-wide character education and service learning activities. Summit Road STEM Elementary is a K-4 school where every grade level is responsible for researching, sharing and leading the school wide assembly for one of their school’s Core Values. Last year, Kindergarten was responsible for curiosity. The students learned what the word meant and created a presentation where they shared the message with all other students in the school. Kindergartners also designed a school wide challenge (service learning project) related to the topic. If 5-year-olds can do it, so can you!

What strategies do you use to authentically empower your students?

Check back next month for Part Four of KnowledgeWorks’ five-part series on implementing K-TECH in the classroom.

Read other posts in this series:

Guest post by Michele Timmons, a former Manager of Partnership Development and Technical Assistance Coach for KnowledgeWorks.