Our StoryMy name is Chris Aviles. I teach English at Barnegat High School in Barnegat, New Jersey. This is not my Campaign. This is my students' Campaign.
This year, I asked my students what skills they think they would need to be successful in the 21st century. They said things like perseverance, collaboration, hustle, being personable, being tech savvy, and a great communicator.
I then had them research how 21st century companies were fostering those skills. When the first student did a GIS for Google work environment I thought his head was going to explode. Soon, all of my kids were looking up great workspaces. At first they were excited, but then they got mad.
"We could do so much more," they said.
They wondered, "Why can't we learn in places like that?"
I felt bad. I didn't have a good answer for them.
Instead of becoming defeated, they were motivated. My students made it clear that they wanted to learn in places like that; they wanted to learn in a 21st century workspace and they were going to make it happen.
I use Project and Problem-based Learning in my classroom, so I was excited to see students using the skills we've worked on all year and starting to organize themselves and brainstorm solutions. I sat back and watched as 75 kids, spread across three periods, focused their energy to achieve one goal: getting more out of their classroom. I was thrilled! My students identified a problem, but instead of giving in to teenage-apathy, they decided to do something about it. After much debate and planning they decided crowd-funding was the answer.
My students have set out to raise $6,500 to improve the technology in their classroom and replace their old, uncomfortable desks (the ones we all hated sitting in), and turn their classroom walls into a living canvas for students to decorate every year.
My kids worked hard. The video you see, the pricing, rewards you'll receive, and everything else was all them. They wanted to do something great. I just got out of their way.
And yes, my kids really are this great.
How much and what we get depends on what we raise; my average class size is thirty. We totally don't expect to raise that much money, so we are shooting for just half. My kids hope the classes that come after them will want to follow in their footsteps and help raise the money until the classroom is complete. They want to start a tradition.
My students made a wishlist:
- ~15 Learn2 desks from KI Furniture (They have been working close with the kids and have put together a great deal for us! They even donated a desk!)
- ~2 Pub-style tables, so students can stand while they learn (Thinking IKEA tables for this)
- ~10 Chromebooks.
- Paint, brackets, hangers, etc. to turn the walls into a living canvas for student artwork and projects.
This has been a much longer journey than my students or I ever imagined.
They've overcome many obstacles that I've chronicled here, but I think the biggest impact of all has been the realization that being apathetic isn't cool. They've identified a problem and formulated a solution. Even if we fail, they've told me they've learned a lot. The journey is where the learning happens.
Risks & Challenges
My students know they will face challenges:
Is $6,500 enough?
What if we only raise a little bit, or nothing at all?
How can we get the word out?
Will we really have to come during the summer to help setup the classroom and get rewards out on time? Like seriously, will we?!
However, I think they've overcome the two biggest challenges already. 1) They've made a Campaign! They put themselves out there. They put their full effort and passion into getting this Campaign off the ground knowing that failure is a very real possibility and (2) they've realized they will never get to learn in this classroom, since they will be promoted to the next grade by the time the classroom is done, but want to do it anyway. Their 21st century classroom is no longer for them, but for the students who come after them. This classroom is a gift.
Even if my students fail, I am still proud of them and happy to see they have put the Project and Problem-based Learning we've been doing all year to good, real-world use. What more could a teacher ask for?
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can't or don't want to donate, it's cool. Even if you just spread the word and make some noise, we would appreciate it!