When Trixie Wilker first heard about the Collaborative Lab School (CLS), she knew it was the kind of environment she needed for her education. As a student, she learns best from untraditional learning experiences. CLS is a new pathway at Hopkins High School, powered by Hopkins Public Schools and Thrive Ed, where students and educators work together to co-create authentic learning experiences. In this environment, Trixie is given more freedom and support to be the driver of her own education.
Q: What makes CLS unique from a traditional class?
I have found that CLS is different from past classes I've taken in structure, grading, trust, control, etc. Everything is set up and handled so differently from the regular school system that I sometimes have trouble explaining the differences because I see it as so separate from the traditional school system. In CLS, students lead classes and conversations. Instead of teachers, we have engagement guides who learn with us and guide us through learning. We have a lot of chances to connect what we're learning to things outside of our course and also really focus our efforts on what interests us.
Q: When have you used your student voice?
I see myself as an opinionated person and I like being outspoken about those opinions. Maybe I've been too scared to speak up in the past. School should not be a place where kids are afraid to voice their thoughts. Learning happens when ideas are challenged.
Q: Why is student voice important?
It's so important for student voices to be heard because they are the primary learners. Students have a greater understanding of how they learn best than they get credit for. So many times student voices are dismissed when they bring up issues and their voices are eroded over time. When we allow students to share their thoughts and opinions — and in turn, really listen and respect them — school has the potential to transform into a really beautiful learning environment.