Six Resources on XQ Design Principles

Hi teachers! Notice anything different? This week’s Give Me Five is actually a Give Me Six—six…

By Anna Sudderth

Hi teachers! Notice anything different? This week’s Give Me Five is actually a Give Me Six—six resources in honor of the six XQ Design Principles! These principles represent the core elements of effective high schools—guiding pillars for what high school can be. Over the last few months, we’ve dove into each principle, in this newsletter and over on Rethink Together. This week, we’re bringing it all together with a summary of each principle and why it matters. Ready? Give me SIX!

Commit to shared values to uplift all learners. 

Why It Matters: Strong mission and culture is a unifying set of values and principles that unite a school community in common purpose. Having these shared values ensures that every adult stays focused on what’s best for students. It also holds schools accountable to putting their goals into action. Hallmarks of strong mission and culture include:

  • Commitment to a growth mindset
  • Sustained focus on equity
  • Every adult and student can articulate the school’s mission
  • Transparency and accountability around decision-making at all levels

Extra Credit: The Writing, and Mission, is on the Wall at this Innovative High School

Students learn best when the curriculum is rigorous and relevant. 

Why It Matters: As a teacher, you know when your students are genuinely invested in their learning, and when they’re just jumping through the hoops. Committing to meaningful, engaged learning means making student investment the norm. Characteristics of meaningful, engaged learning in practice include:

Extra Credit: What Is Student Centered Learning and Why Is It Important?

Put relationships at the core of learning. 

Why It Matters: Learning is a social endeavor. When students feel connected, supported, and known at school—by adults and by their peers—learning outcomes improve. Schools can take these steps to make caring, trusting relationships a priority: 

  • Ensure each student has one primary connection
  • Cultivate trust
  • Empower students to explore their identities
  • Center belonging

Extra Credit: A Teacher’s Journey Toward Culturally-Relevant Teaching Practices

Give students a say in what, when, and how they learn. 

Why It Matters: One of the most important things high school can do for today’s students is help them build agency and autonomy. That’s the core of youth voice and choice: giving every student the opportunity to direct their own learning based on their passions and interests. To encourage youth voice and choice, educators and school leaders can: 

  • Involve students in large-scale decisions
  • Give students real choice in their learning, not just superficial options
  • Serve as champions for students and celebrate their growth

Extra Credit: How Do Students Really Feel About High School? And What Can Educators Do About It?

Get creative with resources to support effective learning. 

Why It Matters: The structure of school—the building, the schedule, and the classrooms—has a huge impact on learning. Smart use of time, space, and tech means taking a bold look at school structures to ask, how can these elements better serve students? School staff can guide this process by asking: 

  • Do existing structures of time, space, and technology align with the school’s mission?
  • What data can guide innovation?
  • What’s the student perspective on how to use time to increase engagement?

Extra Credit: How Museums are Engaging with Students Remotely

Team up with outside partners to benefit both students and the community.

Why It Matters: Community partnerships expand the boundaries of the classroom and empower students to build real-world skills. Through opportunities like community projects, internships, and research, students gain confidence and insight into future possibilities. Partners also benefit from students’ work, creativity, and insight. It’s a win-win. The most successful partnerships: 

  • Incorporate rigorous academic goals
  • Allow students to fail
  • Address authentic community needs and challenges

Extra Credit: How Important is Education for Economic Growth?

How did the pandemic affect teens who were still new to high school or college when everything went remote? Many had yet to build strong relationships with their fellow students and teachers and were still getting used to a new level of schooling. It was a tough adjustment, and that made for another adjustment when they were finally able to be together again in person. Listen to the latest episode of @ThisTeenageLife.

Take a listen