Research Seminar: Student Voices

With just a few classes to go, I asked my students to write a reflection of their experience in the Research Seminar class. I asked them to write about what they have gotten from the course, and to give me suggestions for what I could do to make the course better for students. I knew they were happy with the class because they had gone to the principal to ask that it continue for the whole year when it was only scheduled to be a semester class, but I was not sure what they would say they had gotten from it. Here is some of what they said.

“This class has helped me figure out what I want to learn and study more than any other class.”

“Another major takeaway from the class was that I was pushed out of my comfort zone.”

“I’ll take away a stronger knowledge of research strategies and experience working independently, which I know will be a valuable skill next year.”

“It was easily my most enjoyable class this year, and I looked forward to every class.”

“I have taken away the idea of working on my own and trusting myself with time management.”

“I have taken away how much work is needed to be put in to have a great project. I’ve also taken away how to push myself through getting bored with interesting topics.”

“It was the best and most work I did in all of my classes.”

“This class has probably been the most influential ones that I have taken in all my four years in high school at Friends. Not only did you challenge me, you being my teacher, but so did the whole objective of the course.”

“I didn’t know what to expect from this course, but it greatly prepared me for the future I want.”

“The biggest thing I took away from this class is learning about my own style of learning.”

“This class has given me some of my best memories and tools from high school.”

“One might think that a class with very few rules is easy; however, it is very rigorous and uniquely difficult to create a curriculum for yourself.”

Half of them referenced feeling better prepared for college due to the course. They all gained insight into their own learning, which they will carry forward. There were a few suggestions, but not many. Most focused on what they had gotten out of the course. I am so proud of this group of kids. When we sat down to figure out the final schedule for final presentations, they decided that they wanted to use the senior exam block so they could all present at once, rather than splitting it up between the final two classes. They also wanted a little time to polish their presentations after they finish classes. So, they are coming in for two hours on a day that they otherwise would not have to be in school.

I have no idea how strong their final work will be. As seniors crawl to the finish line with classes this week and prepare to head off to work projects for the month of May, it is possible that some of them will fall short of what they have accomplished previously. No matter how they end up, I am proud of them. They created a class. They kept it going for a full year when it was supposed to be a semester course. Many of them took their projects and turned them into workshops for our March Convocation Day for Social Justice.

I will write my final reflections on the class after we conclude next week.