Thinking about doing massive school reform projects, teaching a class on school improvement, or trying to get students on school boards and change other policies might feel overwhelming to any adult who works in schools. Yet, this is what a lot of student voice advocates demand of schools.
In addition to focusing on whole systems school reform, I want to encourage adults who work in schools to consider Meaningful Student Involvement part of their daily motions in schools.
9 Ways to Make Student Voice Matter
- Teach about school. Show students of all ages how learning happens, how the school system works, and what school improvement is. Teach classes to develop your students’ leadership, communication, problem-solving, and partnership skills.
- Promote self-advocacy. Teach students of all ages how to necessarily and accordingly advocate for themselves and their peers in schools.
- Encourage public support. Teach students about state and local education laws without manipulating them to become involved.
- Infuse Meaningful Student Involvement. Make roles for students to research education, plan learning, teach course topics, evaluate teaching and learning, make systemic decisions, and advocate for their own education within and throughout your own classes.
- Engage new voices. Create roles for nontraditional student leaders on regular decision-making committees you belong to in school, work with students to organize a student union in your school, or be active with student-led organizations in your school.
- Share knowledge. Reach out to other teachers and students who aren’t in your classes to share information about schools and school reform.
- Be an ally to all students. Build community within your school and create opportunities for students to engage with each other and share student voice.
- Foster support. Recruit and train community volunteers and mentors for student school change agents who reflect the diversity of the broader community.
- Share the love. Thank local businesses, nonprofits, and leaders who engage in school improvement, and encourage students to do the same.
These are practical steps that any adult in every school can take to make student voice matter every single day. What would you add to the list?