I took my nine year old daughter, Erica Lynn, shopping for school clothes this weekend (ay yi yi). I heard about the social and emotional changes that begin to occur during this age, but I can’t say I was totally prepared for them. During our all day experience (and I mean all day), there was laughter, tears, compromise, frustration, and at the end of the day there was joy. Erica put her nose up at about 80% of the outfits I had in mind for her, but I realized something so important. Erica is her own person. Imagine that.
In order for a school to be a place of joy that supports its learners in reaching their goals and dreams there must be a culture in place that is responsive to what kids say. For the passionate educator there will be laughter, tears, compromise, frustration, and at the end of the day there will be joy.
It is a process which begins with an assessment and reflection of the role of student voice in learning. In schools that encourage student voice teachers, administrators and the community value student feedback. They tap into students’ creativity and knowledge. This brings authenticity and relevance to the learning environment.
Student Voice, The Instrument of Change (Quaglia & Corso, 2014), outlines 8 Conditions That Make a Difference:
- Belonging: Students believe that they are a valued, unique members of the classroom and school community.
- Heroes: Everyday people take time to encourage and inspire students.
- Sense of Accomplishment: Students are recognized for their effort, progress and achievement.
- Fun & Excitement: Students are committed to learning and actively involved in the process.
- Curiosity and Creativity: There is a desire to learn about new things.
- Spirit of Adventure: Risk taking is encouraged, and students accept healthy challenges in all areas.
- Leadership and Responsibility: Students express their ideas and accept responsibility for their decisions and actions.
- Confidence to Take Action: Students believe in themselves and work toward their goals.
I am getting to know Erica as a unique individual. I realize that I can’t create a template, plan, form or checklist to guide her through life. I can’t support her without knowledge of who she is. Erica holds the key to that knowledge. The challenge is finding creative ways to gather that knowledge and using it with intention when I interact with her. This holds true in a classroom.
What will student voice look like in your classroom this year? What are some of your greatest challenges in using student voice to guide learning?
Come back next week as I discuss some quick and easy strategies to promote student voice…on day 1.
Have a great week,
Quaglia, R.J.,& Corso M.J. (2014). Student Voice: The Instrument of Change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.