Originally published as Fletcher, A. (August 2019) “10 things you can do to advocate for student voice,” Connect 208. p. 20. Retrieved May 12, 2020 from https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1217&context=connect
Student Voice is not a mysterious ethereal thing without faces or names, identity or purpose. Instead, it is the practical expressions of every student in every school about education, learning and schools. For a lot of reasons, sometimes adults don’t want to hear or engage Student Voice though. Whether you are a student or an adult, here are 10 ways you can advocate for Student Voice.
- Learn about Student Voice. Did you know that Student Voice is more than classes voting or school-wide meetings? Learn about student voice from the SoundOut website, or through a number of books and websites.
- Brainstorm what your school can do to change. The power of your imagination is a terrible thing to waste! Brainstorm different ways your school could engage student voice more, and make a list.
- Talk to other students about Student Voice. Ask your friends if they know about Student Voice. Share your ideas about which changes your school can make, and ask if they have any ideas themselves. Challenge them to ask you hard questions, and see if you can answer them, or tell them you’ll get back to them after your learn more.
- Find an adult ally. Create a learning partnership with an adult to help your efforts. Engaging an adult ally can make planning more effective and connections with other adults easier.
- Create a Student Voice plan for your school or community organization. Maybe your school or the neighborhood nonprofit needs more Student Voice. Work with your friends to make a plan for who, what, when, where and how Student Voice can be used.
- Hold a Student Voice workshop. Invite other youth and adults in your community to learn about Student Voice by facilitating a hands-on demonstration workshop. Research Student Voice learning activities and use them to help participants learn by experiencing democracy in education.
- Present your plan to school decision-makers. Who makes decisions about how teachers should teach in your school? Teachers, principals, assistant principals, district administrators and district board of education members can all affect Student Voice. Share your plan to them one-on-one or make a presentation to the school board.
- Present your plan to community decision-makers. Who chooses which schools and nonprofit organizations get funding? Present your plan to them, as well as neighborhood association presidents, local businesspeople and youth organizations’ leaders.
- Organize! If your efforts to work with the education system aren’t working, organize. Find other people who care about Student Voice by sharing the idea every chance you get, and ask them to join you in promoting the concept in your school or community. Then determine a goal and take action to put Student Voice into action for everyone!
- Find allies online. Having a hard time finding other youth and adults who care? Look online through websites like soundout.org. People you can partner with are everywhere, and sometimes it’s just a matter of asking!