Two weeks ago I was at EduCon 2.9 in Philadelphia. One of the main takeaways was the power of student perspective. I’ve started to reflect about how we bring in this critical perspective and asking myself some questions.
- Do we really listen to our students’ perspective?
- How do we ask for more input from them?
- What do we do with the input? Does it really change the work we do in our school?
I have a really unique relationship with my Tech Aide students. Our class is very similar to an internship, where they learn the roles of our jobs, then practice those jobs through the year. This lends itself to a more equal relationship, and we ask for and really listen to our students opinions often. Their opinions are really in tune with the culture of our school and I’m so impressed with how well they articulate these ideas and feelings and experiences in their school careers.
But the thought in my mind – is that a product of our relationship with the students or the structure of our class or a combination? Most classes and clubs have this strong imbalance of power – not in the favor of our students.
That power seemed much more equal at SLA and EduCon – students cochaired the conference committee. Students ran many of the events. They had say in how things were decided. I’m wondering what that would look like in a large, public high school and how we could get close to that.
I came across the #QuestionsToAskYourStudents from CG Lee on Twitter and I think this is a great place to start.
But I don’t think asking is enough. The idea of being open to listen and react to the answers is critical – otherwise we send the message to our students that we don’t value their opinion.
Does your school have a student advisory board that helps the leadership team make decisions? We usually have a parent board and a teacher committee – but what about the student voice? What impacat does your student leadership/government class have in the big picture decisions your school makes?
How can we include our students more purposefully?