Educators frequently find themselves wondering why their students behave or perform the way that they do. Understanding our students’ needs and motivations can inspire innovations that make the classroom experience better for everyone. Listening to students also helps students feel important and valued, increasing their level of engagement and confidence both in and outside of school.
Edglossary.org defines student voice in two ways. First, the term refers to “the values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students in a school.” Second, the term refers to “instructional approaches and techniques that are based on student choices, interests, passions, and ambitions.”
The following examples illustrate strategies used by educators to empower students to take an active role in their learning:
Example #1: How am I teaching?
At Trinidad Garza Early College High School, physics teacher Christopher Pagan asked his students to take a short survey. Questions included, “Why do you turn your homework in late, or why do you always turn it in on time?”, “Do you like the way I teach?”, “Do you like the way I demonstrate examples?”, and “Are you satisfied with your performance in the class?”
Students could choose to put their name on the survey, or remain anonymous. The results of the survey changed and informed his instruction. For example, some students asked for more hands-on activities and real-life examples to help them understand concepts. Mr. Pagan responded to that feedback by giving his students more opportunities for hands-on learning.
Watch the full video about using student surveys:
Example #2: Student-Led Meetings
At University Park Campus School, Alec, an 8th grade student, led a meeting with 11 adults, including his parents, teachers, and the principal. A structured document containing a standard set of questions helped Alec to prepare for the meeting. As part of the planning, Alec set goals for himself to help him grow academically and personally.
“Student-led meetings allow our students to feel like they have a chance to talk to staff on another level, as humans with a life and an experience that can be shared,” says guidance counselor Lynnel Reed.
Watch the full video about student-led meetings:
This month’s NWEA Connection theme explores the question: How can educators use assessments to inspire and empower students to take charge of their education? We’ll look at ways of accessing student voices and gathering student feedback, as well as discuss the value of student voice in assessment practices.
If you’re ready to learn more about student voice, bookmark and explore the following discussions and blogs:
What is your experience with incorporating student voice in your classroom?
Engage in the conversation by replying to this month’s featured discussion posts to share your thoughts about incorporating student voice in the classroom and using assessment to support student empowerment. Don’t forget to check back frequently for new theme-related content and to connect with other educators.