Part 3: Student Voice Dos and Donts

The DOs and DON’Ts of Student Voice

Working with more than 500 student and adult participants in SoundOut Student Voice Workshops over the last year, I have compiled the following list of dos and don’ts for sharing student voice in education activities. The complete list includes planning activities, preparing students, actually facilitating activities, and sustaining student voice afterwards. Today’s post covers how to facilitate student voice activities. For the complete article email and ask.


To facilitate student voice in education activities, DON’T…

£  Give the impression that student voice only happens at your event.

£  Don’t isolate students from adults, either in small groups or overall, without thorough consideration.

£  Ask students to address topics they could know nothing about without preparation.

£  Call on one particular student to share repeatedly.

£  Instruct students to make generalizations about other students.

£  Only invite 10 students to join 1,000 adults at an education event; aim for equal numbers.

£  Limit students to talk only about topics adults associate them with instead of broad education issues. 

£  Put students in traditional adult positions without the authority, ability, or knowledge adults usually receive.

£  Neglect to tell all people present—adults and students—the purpose of student voice and their involvement. 

£  Undermine student voice by letting adults and students think that students are being tokenized.

£  Treat student voice as unique, infallible, or otherwise put on a pedestal by adults.

To facilitate student voice in education activities, DO…

£  Tell and engage students in multiple roles beyond being informants for adults.

£  See and treat student voice as integral to school improvement.

£  Share with students and adults that students only represent themselves and their own experiences.

£  Acknowledge students the same way adults are acknowledged for attending.

£  Simply listen to the words and ways students talk about issues, and ask for clarification when needed.

£  Listen to student voice in obvious ways (speaking, writing) and not other ways (art, Internet).

£  Give students the explicit right and opportunities to raise issues and to fully participate in activities.

£  Treat listening to student voice as a culture to foster, not a checkbox to complete.

£  Allow students to talk on a school’s social media sites and at in-person education activities.

£  See and treat students as full partners in the education system.

£  Engage students in issues at the local building level, not in district, state, or federal activities.

For more information about student voice in schools, visit

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker and writer who researches, writes and shares about youth, education, and history. Learn more about me at

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