Human Sexuality Power Standard Class: Creating the Future of Human Sexuality Curriculum
Human sexuality is a complex and multifaceted topic that can be difficult to discuss in the classroom - and it is overwhelmingly important. Many students at Eagle Rock, and around the country, have struggled in academic settings and have not had the opportunity to be curious and inquisitive. At Eagle Rock School, we believe that our job as educators is to help heal the harms these students have faced in some institutions and allow students to learn and explore in authentic ways. Tara Jewell, Eagle Rock’s Literature And Literacy Instructional Specialist is shaping the way students approach learning, and through critical feedback and collaboration with her students, a new curriculum for Human Sexuality was born!
Students Strengths Shining
Last trimester, a group of students opted into a 5-week “add-on” class after completing the 5-week “standard” and required Human Sexuality class. The students shaped the class, facilitated lessons, held each other accountable, evaluated each other’s work, and took ownership of their learning and the learning of future students who would engage with their curriculum.
Providing space for students to create their ideal classroom environment allows a variety of talents and interests to surface. One student really likes to organize, so she organized a shared Drive by week with color-coded topics and helped make sure each student's facilitation and corresponding homework assignments would naturally flow and be cohesive. Another student found a passion for writing lesson plans, so he created activities and organized daily plans to promote engagement and learning. Other students dove into specific topics they felt energized by and, through research and thoughtful contemplation, plucked out important ideas to include in the curriculum.
Students created engaging and inclusive content for class and participated in deeply reflective work about their identities and how they show up in the classroom and the world. They created a loving and caring classroom space to explore and learn alongside one another.
Sharing Ownership of Learning
In the Human Sexuality PS, students collectively established a goal statement for the course: “To have an equitable, just, and inclusive human sexuality curriculum.” They examined the identity markers that were present in their group and looked to see what identity markers were not represented in the classroom. Through that exercise, they were able to ensure that their curriculum would be inclusive. They understood the lenses through which they were writing lessons and their gap spots to be intentional about including.
They owned their learning! This ownership of information is vital for students, especially for students with marginalized identity markers. Students provided space for one another to explore and understand their peers' complex identities, especially around gender and/or sexual orientation. The lessons students created were acquired through their authentic curiosity, research, conversation, and lived experiences – so they own it. Students leave equipped not only to be more confident in their own journeys but also to coach friends along their identity journeys.
In addition to creating an entirely new, engaging, relevant, and inclusive human sexuality curriculum, students in the Human Sexuality PS class individually selected a topic covered in the course in which to do a personal “deep dive.” They evaluated their behavior surrounding that topic, collected data, engaged in a literature review, reflected, and made decisions regarding potential behavior changes to live aligned with their values.
The power of this class lies in students rewriting, reworking, and recreating the existing curriculum to better suit their unique needs as emerging adults. Eagle Rock is asking ourselves and fellow educators how we can better serve students in taking ownership of their own education through a transfer of power within the classroom space. As evidenced in the Human Sexuality course, students are curious and eager to learn alongside their peers and educators.