In January, as winter break was nearing its end, more than 70 middle and high school students arrived at Roosevelt High School alongside hundreds of Weld RE-5J staff to support a day of professional development focused on the instructional vision of our school district.

Our amazing students led staff through an examination of our six Innovation Guiding Principles:

LEARNING IS FOUNDED IN INQUIRY. We believe that learning is a journey inspired by authentic questions. We actively create a culture in which questions are as important as answers, and every learner is challenged/encouraged to inquire.

LEARNING FOSTERS A CULTURE OF CURIOSITY AND RISK TAKING. We believe that in order to succeed, we must try first. We support risk taking and expanding the limits of what learners know and can do. We actively create a culture in which curiosity is valued.

MASTERY OF LEARNING IS DEMONSTRATED IN MULTIPLE WAYS. We believe there are many ways to demonstrate and measure the understanding and mastery of skills. We actively create a culture in which learners are challenged to present their understanding verbally, visually, digitally and by completing projects in multiple mediums.

LEARNING IS A SOCIAL PROCESS. We believe learning requires interaction. We actively create a culture that encourages meaningful interaction and builds communities where all learners feel safe, heard and valued.

LEARNING IS POWERFUL WHEN STUDENTS CREATE SOLUTIONS TO AUTHENTIC CHALLENGES. We believe that learning is powerful when students create solutions to challenges that impact their local, national or global community. We actively create a culture in which learning occurs within a real-world context, providing students with a greater sense of purpose.

LEARNING IS PERSONALIZED AND LEARNER-LED. We believe that learning is personalized and learner-led. We actively create a culture that emphasizes student autonomy, choice, self-assessment, continuous improvement, active exploration and a variety of ways to learn.

We want to thank our student volunteers for adding their voices to the important work of further defining our district’s vision for education. Much of the feedback we received from staff cited the value, inspiration and enlightenment that students brought to the day. The experience was also an eye-opener for students, who gained new perspective and appreciation for the hard work their teachers do every day.

The January staff event was a step forward in defining a direction for teaching and learning in our district, which is also critical to helping us identify the physical spaces we need to enhance student opportunities and experiences.

You don’t have to look far to find other communities in Northern Colorado that have recently invested in innovative learning environments—classrooms and sometimes entire buildings that are designed to support students in acquiring success skills like critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. These spaces are inviting and modern and are designed to meet the individual needs of learners.

As we look to the future, we know there are new opportunities we must explore—renovating existing facilities and building new ones—in the interest of creating amazing learning experiences for Weld RE-5J students. We look forward to sharing more information on our facility plans next month. Stay tuned!

Let us know what you think of the newsletter. If you have a great story to share, please email us at listen@weldre5j.org .