Principle H

H – Honor student diversity, development and their right to learn.

To demonstrate a positive impact on student learning, teacher-candidates…

H1 – Honor student diversity and development.  Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt learner centered curricula that engage students in a variety of culturally responsive, developmentally, and age appropriate strategies.

H2 – Honor student access to content material.  Teacher-candidates use multiple instructional strategies, including the principles of second language acquisition, to address student academic language ability levels and cultural and linguistic backgrounds. 

H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning.  Teacher-candidates implement classroom/school centered instruction, including sheltered instruction that is connected to communities within the classroom and the school, and includes knowledge and skills for working with others. 

H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process.  Teacher-candidates inform, involve, and collaborate with families/neighborhoods, and communities in each student’s education process, including using information about student cultural identity, achievement and performance.

H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society.  Teacher-candidates prepare students to be responsible citizens for an environmentally sustainable, globally interconnected, and diverse society. 


My Understanding of Principle H

I am glad that Principle H comes first in the acronym.  Principle H is the smile on the face of a teacher as he/she greets their students on the first day of class.  Principle H is the respect that teacher shows to those students on each and every day of class.  The respect that these students are different.  That these students have all walked different paths that have led them here, and that these students will for a brief period of time be a learning community, that come the last day of class will not be strangers, but friends, and members of a family.  Principle H recognizes that students learn differently because of their different contexts.  Principle H recognizes that students need a guiding hand to show them where to find knowledge and wisdom.  Principle H declares that the classroom is hallowed ground for this labor of love which is learning.  Principle H welcomes the family and the community into that space, which is the classroom.  Principle H declares to a skeptical world that these students have a role to play, have a contribution to make, have a destiny to fulfill that will be unique and creative.  Principle H is a teacher’s starting presupposition, and motivation for all that follows.

Meta-Reflection on Principle H

I have had the privilege of being part of Highline Big Picture High School (BPS) this past year.  This school is small, less than 120 students, but its vision of how secondary education should be done is large.  Central to the vision of Big Picture Learning schools in general and this school in particular is “one child at a time”.  In theory that means that Big Picture is about honoring student diversity, first and foremost, last and always.  In practice, this means that each student has an individualized learning plan (LP), which is built upon each student’s interests, and which is organized around the five learning goals (LG):  Social Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning i.e. “QR”, Empirical Reasoning i.e. “ER”, Communication, and Personal Qualities.

My role at the school has been that of Teacher:  STEM Specialist, where STEM stands for the usual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The vision for teachers in that role—I say teachers because my mentor is also a STEM Specialist—is to foster the engagement of the students with STEM topics.  The tools at our disposal are field trips (a few of which I describe below), learning plan reviews (to make sure that QR and ER are present), individual topic studies with students (kind of like traditional independent study), support/collaboration with advisors, and study circles with larger groups of students (look like classes, but aren’t that formal).

One challenge of this role is that I do not have primary responsibility for any students.  In other words, a student’s advisor (like homeroom teacher) owns the plan for what students are doing each day either group time in the advisory, or independent work time.  The challenge is that I have to make sure that if I propose activities for a student that I have the buyoff from that student’s advisor for the activities that I have in mind for the student.  Most of the time, the advisor is OK with the activities, but occasionally there are either time conflicts, or even duplication of effort or activity.  My mentor has thrived in this environment for some time but freely acknowledges that unless you can get dedicated time with a student, it is awfully hard to engage that student with STEM in a meaningful way.

Artifacts of Student Impact

As evidence of (H1), I show a couple of sections of clip of me teaching the 7th Grade (POGIL*-based) math class.  The lesson for this day is talking about percent discounts on purchases, and reviews percents, decimals and fractions as part of the guided inquiry learning.

*POGIL is Process-Oriented, Guided-Inquiry, Learning.  It is group based, with each member of the group performing a role.

What I learned from this teaching experience is that group-based learning requires quite a bit of selling to the students.  Groups can often go dysfunctional and stop working together if the balance of work is not equitable.  Also, the more advanced students start feeling dragged down in the group if the material is not challenging enough.  Nevertheless, I think the experience was invaluable for me learning a little about how a group-based learning module is designed, and how to divide up students so that engagement with that material is more effective.  I also learned how extremely exciting it is to see students interacting with the material and teaching each other.

In this clip I am introducing the POGIL-based exercise for that day.

[NOTE: video is marked private if you need/want access please ask!]

In this clip the student is sharing the work of her group to fill out a table for percent, decimal and fraction equivalents.

[NOTE: video is marked private if you need/want access please ask!]

As evidence of honoring student access to content material (H2) I show in the video linked at the left a session of shared reading we did in the “Science Behind CSI” elective (Session 2, Class 1) on the history of forensic science.

I encouraged students to read from this article, but only as they felt comfortable, I also scaffolded appropriately if the section being read was too difficult.  I got good participation from students and am glad that they got to practice some academic language related to the topic.


[NOTE:  video is marked private if you need/want access please ask!]

I submit as evidence of honoring the classroom (H3) a video of a guest speaker which I invited to come to my video game elective course.  I was super-excited to have some students in the room that either have friends with video game addiction issues, or struggle with arousal addiction themselves.  The guest speaker did a great job of connecting with the students and presenting his case for students addressing this issue as it impacts their school skills and ability to interact/work with others.
In order to support family involvement in the learning process (H4), I made use of an e-mail service to send out regular newsletters.  One parent replied and asked for specific support for their student.  At right is some e-mail interaction between us. 

The student in question is one of those whose Math score on an SAT diagnostic post-test improved and whose composite score improved almost 100 points.

I submit as evidence of student impact of (H4) the clip at right.  Adele Mitchell is in the Medical Examiners Office of New York City and agreed to come and speak to a few students about her job and what preparation they might need to be in her profession. 

At 1:30 in the video, student D.M. (off-camera) explains his interests.  I wind up  asking a lot of questions as scaffolding to get other students in the room comfortable with what they might want to ask.

At 17:10 in the video, student M.E. (off-camera) elaborates on her career goals.  And Adele speaks to some related interests or activities she has done.

At 23:47, Adele makes a recommendation on what students should study if they are interested in forensics.

At 28:46, Student T.T. talks about his internship helping do Tobacco Enforcement.

At 31:50, Student D.M. asks Adele about the most interesting case she had been on.  His followup question at 40:12 is if Adele loves what she does.

Here is a picture of student S.Z. whose Senior Thesis Project won her an Earth Heroes at School award.  Here she is getting her picture taken with King County Executive, Dow Constantine.  My support of S.Z. her project and this process I submit as evidence of H5. 

S.Z. Also arranged for local coverage of the initial trash audit by B-Town Blog, a hyperlocal blog in Burien.  They ran a story (PDF) with the pictures from the audit when she won the Earth Heroes at School Award. 

I submit as evidence of H5 a picture from one of our field trips.  I led probably 15+ field trips this year.  But at right is one of my favorites, a tour of Valve, the computer game company in Bellevue, WA.  I enjoyed planning and participating in field trips because they helped me envision these students in the roles/industries that we were visiting.  I think they also helped the students see that real people have these jobs, real people have these interests and passions.  The questions students asked and the conversations in the car/van on the way back to school/home were priceless. image

Artifacts of Teacher Behavior

In support of a student (V.C.) who is interested in environmental issues, and to express my belief that he will achieve amazing things some day (H5), I have been helping him to clarify his interest around environmental issues.

We first went on a tour of Clean Harbors Inc, a environmental consulting and cleanup company.  Here is e-mail I sent to all staff at Big Picture announcing our trip that V.C. and a couple other students went on.

While we were there V.C. asked some good questions, and was very excited at the prospect of getting an internship at that location, but one was not available.

Next we tried contacting folks in the King County Hazardous Waste department to see if they have any internships.  That meeting has yet to take place effectively.

More, recently we were able to tour a local company General Biodiesel.  There the students (V.C. and L.D.) learned about the general concept of diesel engines, diesel fuel from cooking oil process, combustion, and a business model for how to make money through renewable fuels.  It is this type of engagement with students which we at BP believe make a lasting difference in their lives.  Showing students roles that are possible and attainable to them is the first step in preparing them for those roles.



I assisted another student (S.Z.) on her Senior Thesis Project (required for graduation).  One stage of the project involved the performing of two trash audits, one before recycling measures were started up in the school lunchroom, and one after those recycling processes had been running for a while. 

Although S.Z. is a senior, she has demonstrated real ability to collaborate with district and state resources and got our school to Level I recognition in the Washington Green Schools program.  For her outstanding efforts at creating an environmentally friendlier school I recommended her for the Earth Heroes at School award, which she won (see picture above)

BPHSRecycling 07

I submit the video at right as evidence of honoring the classroom (H3).  I hosted a licensed mental health care professional for a talk on arousal addiction with my video games elective.  Joshua Ginzler did a great job of connecting with students, bringing his knowledge and skills into the classroom, and helping students see that the classroom is a great place for discussion and debate on topics of relevance to their lives.

This is the same video as above, but listed here as evidence of student involvement as well as student involvement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: