As Boston Beyond looks towards the second year of its badging initiative, numerous prior and prospective partners came together at a badging lunch in April to learn how the program will evolve in the coming year.
Representatives from The PEAR Institute kicked off the event with a professional development session on cultivating critical thinking and perseverance (the skills represented by the two badges that were piloted last year) in middle school and high school students.
To aid in the discussion of critical thinking, attendees participated in a group activity in which one participant was questioned by the rest at 3 different levels of intensity; with “yes/no,” “what,” and ultimately “why” questions. A clear takeaway began to emerge: not all questions are created equal. It is important to lead with inquiry and ask students “why” questions that encourage them to think deeply about the work they do, rather than ask them superficial questions that will not engage them or inspire any measure of critical thought.
The conversation then shifted to perseverance, with partners being challenged to use their own perseverance skills in an activity requiring teams to assemble pages of a children’s book in the correct order with minimal time. Then, participants debriefed their own experiences with perseverance, and discussed ways to identify when students have strong perseverance skills as well as signs that they are struggling. Facilitated by the PEAR Institute presenters, the group also brainstormed ways to build perseverance in students. A primary takeaway from this discourse was the importance of giving students the language they need to express how they feel, and giving them a “web” of people — peers, staff, and other community members — that they can go to for help when they are in need.
After a reflection on the workshop, BASB’s Measurement and Improvement team took over to explain what badging looks like for programs. Middle School students receive physical badges for their achievements, while High School students receive digital badges through the website ForAllRubrics that they can share on college applications and with potential employers.
For Middle School students to earn a badge, they must achieve an attendance requirement of 80% at their program, and a score of 4 or higher in the related section of the SAYO-T. High School students follow these same metrics, although they are also expected to achieve a grade of 85% or higher on a program-specific rubric designed to reflect the skill they have been working on.