Voice or Involvement?
However, a lot of my writing, research, and training has focused on listening to student voice that didn’t fit that description. It doesn’t fit because it’s sustained, authentic, learning-connected, and much more. By this definition alone, it is not student voice.
All this shows how students need new roles throughout the education system. Instead of being passive recipients of adult-driven education systems, Meaningful Student Involvement needs to be infused throughout our schools. This can happen in a lot of ways, and here are a few.
34 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Students
- Connect student voice with learning. Make sure that all student voice activities have genuine objectives that are tied to classroom learning. Guide activities as experiential learning, and ensure students learn about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what they learn from it.
- Go to where students are, and stop insisting they come to where you’re at. This means engaging students as partners in hallways, courtyards, through social media, and other places students are already talking about changing schools.
- Teach students about education in the broadest ways, including culture, geography, economics, history, and more.
- Help students understand different ways of seeing education issues.
- Train adults in schools about the difference between Students as Recipients and Students as Partners, and why that’s an important distinction.
- Help students understand democracy and education, including what they is, how they are interdependent on each other, who is involved, where they fail and when they succeed.
- Develop opportunities for students to share their unfettered concerns about their education with adults.
- Create formal positions for students to occupy throughout their schools and the entirety of the education system.
- Create classes with students as full partners in identifying, planning, facilitating, evaluating, and critiquing throughout.
- Co-design realistic, practical school engagement plans with every student in your school.
- Assign all students a student mutual mentor to introduce them to the culture and traditions of your school.
- Help students plan, advocate, and enact yearlong program calendars for schools.
- Engage students in designing and redesigning classes that serve them and their peers.
- Encourage nontraditional student leaders to co-facilitate regular programs with adults.
- Allow students to become active, full partners in school budgeting.
- Give students positions to become regular classroom assistants and facilitators.
- Partner together students to form facilitation teams that lead classes.
- Acknowledge students teaching younger students in lower age groups with credit and other acknowledgment.
- Co-create professional development with students for adults about issues that matter to them.
- Assign students to create meaningful classroom evaluations of themselves.
- Partner with students to create evaluations of classes, curriculum, facilitation styles, school climate, and educational leadership.
- Train students how to evaluate educators.
- Create opportunities for students to lead school committees, meetings, and more.
- Create positions for students to participate in district boards, school committees, and other education system-wide activities.
- Give students on district boards full-voting positions and equal numbers of positions with adults.
- Create enough positions for students to be equally represented in every school committee and meeting.
- Facilitate all education activities in ways that are engaging for all participants, including students.
- Help students create and enforce policies throughout the school.
- Partner with students in school personnel decisions.
- Work with students to organize public campaigns for school improvement.
- Create opportunities for students to join all existing school committees as equal members.
- Present school data and information so students understand why and how education can and should change.
- Position students to educate adults throughout the school community, including parents, leaders, policymakers and others, about challenges that matter to them.
- Encourage students with formal and informal opportunities to present their concerns.
The most effective practices are those that move beyond student voice and become Meaningful Student Involvement. No longer satisfied with tokenizing students, the roles of students are transforming roles throughout education. Schools are engaging students as partners in school change, implementing what I’ve coined as Meaningful Student Involvement over the last decade. In this capacity, students are becoming researchers, teachers, evaluators, researchers, decision-makers, and advocates throughout the education system.
The very best thing about all this? Its all backed up by research and practice from across the United States and around the world! For more than a decade I’ve been finding examples, collecting tools, and sharing best practices and findings from researchers, teachers, and students. I share it all free here on my blog and on the SoundOut website, free.
Check those out, and see my website for info about me!