When they think about student voice and Meaningful Student Involvement in their classroom or throughout their school, its normal for teachers, school staff, and building leaders to wonder where to begin. Here are ten tips that can help anyone transform schools by engaging students as partners.
10 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Students
- Connect the Dots. Show that all Meaningful Student Involvement activities relate to school transformation.
- Get Clear. Be crystal clear about the role, objectives, functions and abilities of students who are involved, and ensure they have full-vote, full contributions, and full ability to participate.
- Plan for Action. Develop a work plan for policy, planning, learning, reporting, and assessment.
- Build Capacity. Create opportunities for students to develop their personal skills, knowledge about issues, and conduct.
- Open the Doors. Develop easy access for students to access relevant information and data.
- Ready the Road. Plan in advance for building-wide dialogue and conflict management between students and adults.
- Be Practical. Use a set of easy practices to make all meetings productive.
- Look for Holes. Identify the gaps in skills students and adults have, have a student/adult partnership policy, and enforce full authority for students in activities with adults.
- Share Widely. Create a communication plan for the larger school community beyond those directly involved to know what’s going on and recognize those involved.
- Reflect on Lessons Learned. Build in routine reflection and improvement for students and adults.
Some of the most useful tools for student voice and Meaningful Student Involvement include the following:
- 65 Ways Students Can Change Schools
- Student Voice Tip Sheet
- Who Makes Decisions in Public Schools
- Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement
- Tools for students to evaluate their schools
- Research supporting Meaningful Student Involvement
- 50 Ways Adults Can Support Student Voice in Schools
- Learn about student rights in schools
- How to Create Student/Adult Partnerships
- Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Voice
In improving the work of your school council, the following further tips are also obviously important.
- Do not try to do too much too soon – students and adults may burn out.
- Learn about the research supporting student engagement in school transformation.
- Identify improvements in your school that students will recognize and generally welcome.
- Assess your improvement with our tools – what does Meaningful Student Involvement look like?
- Set up a time in the year to review and consider the next steps, and celebrate progress too.
- Give students substantial recognition for their involvement in improving schools.