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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

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The Genius Bar in Schools: Students

genius
We are all familiar with the Apple Store Genius Bar where specially trained and certified “geniuses” offer help and support for Apple products and services. They offer personal support when customers have problems or questions about their Apple products.

Wondering how we can apply the concept of the Genius Bar to schools I Googled “genius bars in schools” and found 5,240,000 references. Obviously, my thought process was far from original.

After reviewing some of the hits, I noticed they seemed to focus on assisting students, teachers, staff, school leaders or community members with challenges related to technology issues. These tech-support services vary from kiosks in the schools, to specific locations in the school’s library or tech center, to locations in community centers to the use of call-in request and other digital platforms.

It is hard to argue that many students are indeed “geniuses” when it comes to technology and can be extremely helpful and supportive of adults and other students who struggle.

But we cannot limit the “genius” of our students to technology, we need to engage their “genius” in many of the other facets of our schools.

To do so we need to (1) recognize students’ experiences, knowledge, skills, insights, talents, gifts and dispositions and (2) create a school climate that encourages and supports engaging students as geniuses.

If we trust our students with our digital devices, can’t we also trust them to apply their genius to determine how to reduce the dropout rate? How about seeking the genius of students on how to make content and pedagogy more relevant to their lives? And how about seeking the genius of students to identify and reduce the causes of disrespect and bullying in our schools?

When we look for the genius in our students, let’s consider all students. Let’s not focus on just those students who excel in academic, sports and/or leadership, but consider the genius of all students including those who struggle with the current school’s structure and climate, those who are disengaged and those who are a little bit disruptive.

If it takes a village to raise a child, should it not also take the genius of all students to create and sustain an equitable, engaging, relevant and safe school climate that engages each of them in effective and appropriate ways.

Certainly we treasure our schools more than our digital devices, so let’s look for and engage the genius in our students for us all to be successful in school and in life.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
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