Across the United States and around the world, an increasing number of K-12 schools, school districts, state education agencies and provincial education ministries, and federal education agencies are engaging student voice through Meaningful Student Involvement.
Perhaps the best way to foster Meaningful Student Involvement is by taking a systemwide approach. Education systems are large and complex though. This page introduces systemwide Meaningful Student Involvement, sharing considerations and avenues and more.
Locating Meaningful Student Involvement
For more than 20 years, I have worked with education agencies in the United States and Canada to establish, revitalize and re-imagine student voice as something sustainable, impacting and effective. The approach I use is called Meaningful Student Involvement.
I have learned that there are six basic ways Meaningful Student Involvement gets traction throughout education systems. These systems can including whole school buildings, entire school districts, whole state or provincial education agencies, or federal government agencies. The six basic ways are engaging students in…
- Education research
- School planning
- Classroom teaching
- Learning evaluation
- System decision-making
- Education advocacy
There are three other essential considerations:
LEARNING—The middle of all Meaningful Student Involvement should be learning: No student should be engaged anywhere within, around or outside education for the purpose of improving education without learning. This can be informal or formal, but should always be validated with credit for what they’ve learned by being engaged as a partner in education transformation.
K-12 STUDENTS—Meaningful Student Involvement should engage every student in every grade, all of the time. All diversities of students can be acknowledged and uplifted through Meaningful Student Involvement, including each grade level, academic achievement, racial differences, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, and other differences.
STUDENT-ADULT PARTNERSHIPS—Creating intentional, equitable spaces, places and opportunities for students to work with adults to improve learning, teaching and leadership is the heart of Meaningful Student Involvement.
Each of these considerations can allow Meaningful Student Involvement to supersede any given area in education, issue faced by schools, or location for Meaningful Student Involvement by addressing an entire system and all of its needs.
Meaningful Student Involvement isn’t singularly about student voice or student engagement, but rather any form of engaging students as partners in every facet of the education system for the purpose of strengthening their commitment to education, community and democracy.
There are many considerations for establishing systemwide Meaningful Student Involvement. Following are some of them, in no particular order.
- Procedures: The formal methods, avenues and opportunities throughout education systems. These can include communication, assessments, curriculum approval, hiring and firing, and much more.
- Placement: Where will Meaningful Student Involvement be located within the education system? Having firm, consistent locations is essential for ensuring successful implementation.
- Practices: What activities, cultures, and attitudes will the individual adults including teachers, principals, student support staff and others as well as students themselves who are engaged through Meaningful Student Involvement exhibit and possess?
- Personnel: Who has formal, substantial and supported roles in Meaningful Student Involvement? How are they selected, who ideally fills them and how are those people supported for success?
- People: Who are the non-assigned adults and students who are informally affected or experiencing Meaningful Student Involvement? How do they become involved, who ideally fills these roles, and how are these people supported to become successful?
- Policies: What are the practical, applicable rules, regulations and outcomes codified in education policy to support Meaningful Student Involvement?
- Products: Can you identify the actual outcomes of Meaningful Student Involvement, including the effects on students and adults, the impacts on whole schools, and the considerations for the jurisdiction of the system that is home to Meaningful Student Involvement?
- Processes: What are the everyday processes and pathways that can make or break Meaningful Student Involvement? Who’s responsible for them? What are the anticipated outcomes?
- Promotion: Who strategically shares the stories, successes, challenges and failures that are essential for promoting Meaningful Student Involvement?
- Possibilities: These are the potentials for each individual, every activity, and total realities facing every part of education everyday, and overall. Whether they are a single student attending one class or a group of staff joining a task force, transforming education or evaluating classroom climates, there are endless possibilities for K-12 schools and the education system.
These ten P’s can provide a useful roadmap to embark on Meaningful Student Involvement. Meaningful Student Involvement can facilitate the most authentic forms of connectedness within and throughout the entire education system. These above approaches and considerations for your agency’s journey to establishing Meaningful Student Involvement.
For further information, including examples, training and technical assistance, call me at (360) 489-9680 or send an email to email@example.com.