||Volume 19, Number 3, Nov./Dec. 2006
by Deepinder Grewel
Focus Group is a student-led initiative whose main purpose is to teach students to be valuable, contributing members of both the school and the outside community. By participating in Focus Group, students gain a variety of leadership and positive interpersonal skills, such as public speaking, teamwork, event planning, and organizational skills. Students participate in facilitating focus groups with their peers to get input about issues that are important to the school population, and then work on finding solutions and implementing them within the school. As well, through Focus Group, students are given opportunities to take part in workshops and conferences outside of the school, which concentrate on making students more socially conscious.
Only two months into the school year, and students at North Delta Secondary School already show signs of becoming great leaders. Opening Day–the first day of the school year at North Delta Secondary School, was largely organized by the Focus Groups students. To give the school year a great start, they organized and ran a welcoming assembly for all students, as well as a barbecue. Also, in September, Focus Group students were given the opportunity to attend the honoured Dalai Lama’s dialogue on Nurturing Compassion, which was attended by students from all across British Columbia.
Focus Group students got a chance to attend the BCTF’s Public Education Conference; this year’s theme was "Rethinking Accountability." The keynote address was given by Dr. Paul Shaker, the current dean of education at Simon Fraser University. It was aimed at offering recommendations to questions posed by the BCTF such as how we can better focus on teaching and learning and how we can work together for our public schools, with a specific emphasis on redefining accountability in our school system.
Following the keynote address, Focus Group students were given the opportunity to show their skills by facilitating focus groups with the adults attending. They conducted a round-table group asking each adult to answer two questions related to the keynote address. These questions exposed the participants to each other’s opinions, ideas, and different interpretations of the keynote address. The facilitations were a valuable part of the learning process for all the adults, and gave everyone an opportunity to express their opinions.
Focus Group continues to grow with the addition of many new facilitators this year who are eager to get involved and make a difference in their schools and their community.
Deepinder Grewel is a focus group member and a student at North Delta Secondary School, Delta.