Meaningful Student Involvement in Under-Resourced Schools

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Meaningful Student Involvement in Under-Resourced Schools

As more schools nationwide realize the power of Meaningful Student Involvement, unfortunately many are still being left behind. For many reasons, under-resourced schools often don’t harness the unique abilities of students to meet their own tech needs, the needs of their peers and teachers, and their seemingly unlimited capacity to learn and grow through technology.

What makes Meaningful Student Involvement so powerful? I’ve been championing the Student Voice Movement for more than 20 years, and during that time I have supported more than 2,500 schools to create generations of Meaningful Student Involvement. This puts me in the position of being international leaders in the student voice movement.

Because of this experience and our vast research on the subject, I am able to report definitively that there are seven unique skills that make up the power of Meaningful Student Involvement.

They are:

  • Focus
  • Tech Literacy
  •  Self-Leadership
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Innovative & Critical Thinking
  • Creative & Effective Communication
  • Problem Solving & Change Management

Meaningful Student Involvement positions students to build these skills in ways that no other approach to education does.

Free Student Voice Resources

Through SoundOut, I’ve created several free student voice resources for schools. Here is a list.

I would love to share more. What does YOUR under-resourced school need to building Meaningful Student Involvement? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

My Availability

I am excited to get this powerful learning into the hands of educators and students in under-served schools around the world. I partner in grant-funded projects to foster the support, opportunities and excitement these schools need to be effective and to excel through Meaningful Student Involvement.

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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.

Student Engagement During COVID-19

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Student Engagement During COVID-19

As schools begin to reopen, teachers across the country have been working hard to ensure that all students have the tools to succeed in the unpredictable school year ahead.

Student engagement is the most important thing for us. Research from 2020-21 shows that the engagement gap between students in low-income and high-income households and between white students and students of color is increasing because COVID has made inequities worse. Meanwhile, studies show the startling effects of COVID on our students’ mental health:

It is good for students to reopen schools, however, it is not enough to get students back on track, especially students facing situations of disadvantage. But the good news is that research shows that Meaningful Student Involvement can make the difference.

Since the start of the pandemic, many schools have increased one-on-one supports for students. For example, students at Davis Middle School in Compton, California, created a Mars Mission to stay engaged during the school year, and reinforced their learning this summer with a school-based program to deepen their work. This project reflected their interests and pushed their classroom into brave new territories in a lot of ways, including 3-D printing, CAD, and much more.

A key focus of Meaningful Student Involvement is making students feel valued and useful in the school around them, helping to positively impact academic achievement and their sense of well-being. Making sure students have a trusting teacher champion for Meaningful Student Involvement who helps other teachers turn to students has been especially important to help students adapt to the disruptions caused by COVID nationwide.

Finally, Meaningful Student Involvement continues show students they can improve education. From activities focused on learning, connection, and affirmation, to career guidance and post-secondary planning activities, Meaningful Student Involvement continues to focus on showing students that they are important right now and in their bright futures—and we help them build on those futures!

5 Steps for Student Engagement during COVID

I’ve been talking with teachers throughout the pandemic about what works now. Here are five ways you can prep students for this next school year:

  1. Plan for Remote and Teach Situationally: Plan your classes to happen remotely and then adapt if you teach in-person. We know that making materials, developing curriculum and more are easier online, and with the power of students to help its even better!
  2. Think Student Engagement First: Many students are more challenged to persevere through challenges when they’re online. Luckily, our curriculum gives them plenty of opportunity for ownership over their learning and shows them how to do that. Remember to give your students choices and opportunities to pursue their own interests. Pair them with other learners online or in-person for motivation and to make tasks more personally relevant.
  3. Change Classroom Expectations: Clear expectations and ways of engaging students that work for online learning can also work for in-person learning. Its essential to engage students consistency with common online tools and expectations.
  4. Be Responsive: Think about having students move through different groups and activities for small-group instruction and conferencing, peer learning and independent work. Students should know when and where to seek help from you and their peers, and using Meaningful Student Involvement they should know exactly what they’re doing for other teachers.
  5. Get Free: Work to free up your time so that you can connect more deeply with all learners whether online or in-person. That’s a tall order, but by fully using technology and the power of students, teachers can get freer and be more engaged with learners.

Whatever happens in this new school year, we are determined to close the student engagement gap and improve education. If you’d like to learn more about the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and how we are helping students prepare for the challenges ahead, contact me today!

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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.

Transforming Schools Today

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Its an understatement to say, “Kill and Drill is dead,” and “Sage on the stage is sleeping.” After 18+ months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that things cannot keep being the same. It is time to massively transform schools today.

For my entire career, I’ve been saying that we need to address the very core of education. In the last few months, I’ve come to understand what that core is: We need to stop measuring the success of public schools based on academic achievement. Instead, we need to focus on student engagement.

How Schools See Student Engagement

  1. Engagement is just for some students, not all
  2. Some students will be engaged, many won’t
  3. Students are the leaders of tomorrow
  4. Stereotypes are okay as long as they serve teachers
  5. Adults in schools know better than students
  6. Teachers do things for and to students
  7. Its best to segregate students by age
  8. At best, teachers should mentor students
  9. Students would go wild without adult control

Student engagement—which happens anytime learners choose the same things over and over—is the heart of learning, teaching, and leadership throughout the education system. It should be the whole goal, purpose, function, and outcome of all schooling everywhere, all the time. If learners aren’t choosing something we want them to, either consciously or unconsciously, then we’re failing them.

If learners aren’t choosing something we want them to, either consciously or unconsciously, then we’re failing them.

Academic achievement merely rates a students’ compliance with the directives, control, and management of educators. It does not measure the passion, desire, interests, or even abilities of learners. Student engagement positions all of those as the utmost important outcomes.

New Ways to See Student Engagements

  1. Students are influencers throughout their peers and communities
  2. Active engagement of every student is essential
  3. Students do no have monolithic engagement or voices
  4. Underrepresented and marginalized students need action now
  5. Student engagement is for all students
  6. Students are the leaders of today and aren’t waiting for tomorrow
  7. Teachers do things with students and engage students in doing things for themselves
  8. Engaging all learners of all ages in solving serious education problems is essential
  9. All adults throughout the education system should be mentored by students

For more than 20 years, I have worked to support K-12 schools, districts, and state education agencies taking powerful, positive strides towards transforming schools today with student engagement. I offer professional development, consultation, and several programs to move in that direction.

I’d love to hear what you think! Share your thoughts below or contact me right away.

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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.