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Feb 20, 2013
By Adam Fletcher for SoundOut. These Student Voice Dos and Donts were designed to help you plan, prepare, facilitate, and sustain student voice. For a free copy of this document, send an email with your contact details to email@example.com
The DOs and DON’Ts of Student Voice By Adam Fletcher(Olympia, WA) — Working with more than 1,500 student and adult participants in SoundOut StudentVoice Workshops in 2012, I compiled the following list of dos and don’ts for sharing student voice ineducation activities. It includes planning activities, preparing adults and students, actually facilitatingactivities, and sustaining student voice afterwards. SoundOut, a program of CommonAction Consultingbased in Olympia, supports K-12 schools and nonprofits in engaging students as partners throughouteducation. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (360) 489-9680. Planning Student Voice Activities To plan education activities that engage student voice, DO… Bring groups of students together to adult events. Acknowledge students the same as you do adult participants. Seek nontraditional student leaders to share their voices. Present the context to adults and students for why students are participating. Plan on reporting the outcomes of the event to student participants as well as adults. Ensure students are present anytime you discuss student voice. Make room for students to share their wisdom, ideas, knowledge, and experiences about school. Explore different ways to engage students as partners in school change. Ensure when young people share relevant personal information that adults share the same amount of info. To plan education activities that engage student voice, DON’T… Assume students need special motivation to share; treat them like interested parties. Invite one student speaker to talk at an adult education event; bring a group. Only invite adult-pleasing students to share student voice. Seek the most popular one, two, or ten students in a school to represent student voice. Fail to explain to students how they were selected for an activity. Forget to tell adults and students the purpose of engaging student voice. Explain to students which students they are supposed to represent. SoundOut is a program of CommonAction Consulting. This document is © 2013 CommonAction Consulting. All Rights Reserved. For more information, examples, tools, and more visit SoundOut.org
Preparing Participants for Student Voice ActivitiesTo prepare participants for student voice activities, DON’T… Talk down to students. Teach them education jargon, theory, and strategies as needed. Single out one student for their race, sexual orientation, academic performance, etc. Neglect to explain to students why they’re involved in an activity. Make students less than adults; students should have opportunities with adults in activities. Forget to give students plenty of opportunity to formulate their own opinions before speaking.To prepare participants for student voice activities, DO… Teach students about the education system they participate in. Help students learn about the broad issues in education affecting them. Invite students to assert themselves, including sharing real experiences and saying what works. Let students know their participation is crucial to the success of schools. Encourage and facilitate active adult interaction with the students at events.Facilitating Student Voice ActivitiesTo facilitate student voice in education activities, DON’T… Give the impression that student voice only happens at your event. Call on one particular student to share repeatedly. Instruct students to make generalizations about other students. Only invite 10 students to join 1,000 adults at an education event; aim for equal numbers. Limit students to talk only about specific topics adults instead of broad education issues. Put students in traditional adult positions without the authority or training adults receive. Neglect to tell all people present the purpose of student voice and their involvement. Undermine student voice by letting anyone think that students are being tokenized. Treat student voice as unique, infallible, or otherwise put on a pedestal by adults.To facilitate student voice in education activities, DO… Tell and engage students in multiple roles beyond being informants for adults. See and treat student voice as integral to school improvement. Share with students and adults that students only represent their own experiences. Give students explicit rights and opportunities to fully participate in activities. Treat listening to student voice as a culture to foster, not a checkbox to complete. Allow students to talk on a school’s social media sites and at in-person education activities. See and treat students as full partners in the education system. Engage students in issues at the local building level, not in district, state, or federal activities.SoundOut is a program of CommonAction Consulting. This document is © 2013 CommonAction Consulting. All Rights Reserved. For more information, examples, tools, and more visit SoundOut.org
Sustaining Student Voice After Activities To sustain student voice beyond the activity, DON’T… Treat students favorably for sharing student voice in an approved way. Punish students when student voice doesn’t meet adult expectations. Invite students to share knowledge, ideas, opinions, and more, and not use what they say. Neglect to recognize student learning from sharing student voice with class credit. Deny the absence of places in local schools for student voice if the issue arises. Acknowledge the validity of student voices that adults disagree with. Ask students to share student voice that never leaves the activity or program theyre in. Interpret student voice into language, acronyms, purposes, and outcomes that adults use. To sustain student voice beyond the activity, DO… Encourage mutual accountability between students and adults. Engage student voice in as many topics as possible, and don’t ignore it regarding others. Create ongoing opportunities to listen to student voice and engage students as partners. Encourage building-level and classroom-level student voice activities. Encourage different students to participate across education activities. Create “safe spaces” where students can continue sharing student voice after the activity. Engage adults and students as full partners in taking action on student voice. Share SoundOut.org as a resource on student voice including examples, tools, and more.These Student Voice Dos and Donts were designed to help you plan, prepare, facilitate, andsustain student voice. Other resources from SoundOut include The Meaningful StudentInvolvement Series, which includes four short booklets exploring the research-driven practice ofengaging students as partners in education. We also offer a regular classroom curriculumcalled the SoundOut Student Voice Program for middle and senior high schools.For more information about student voice in schools, call or visit our website. SoundOut.org. SoundOut is a program of CommonAction Consulting. This document is © 2013 CommonAction Consulting. All Rights Reserved. For more information, examples, tools, and more visit SoundOut.org
Imagine a school... Students as full partners Students and adults working together Student voice is the key to successSoundOut provides unique, engaging, and powerful resourcesfor your school! Our Frameworks for Meaningful StudentInvolvement, used internationally as the gold standard forstudent voice, are available in many ways: Profession development for educators and training for students Classroom lessons for teachers School improvement consulting for K-12 buildings and districtsToolsSoundOut Classroom Kit—Comprised of eight modules, each with three 50-minute lessonplans, the Kit is focused on engaging students as partners in improving schools. Each lessonplan is designed to engage diverse students from grades 7-12 through highly interactive,critical thinking, communication, and project-based learning activities.SoundOut.org—A free, massive online database of examples, articles, research, and moresupporting student voice in schools.Meaningful Student Involvement Series—These four, short booklets provide an introduction tostudent voice in action. They include an introductory Guide to Students as Partners, a ResearchGuide, a Resource Guide, and a collection called Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement.These booklets are available free to download from our website.For More Information Adam Fletcher, Founding Director SoundOut (360) 489-9680 email@example.com SoundOut is a program of CommonAction Consulting. This document is © 2013 CommonAction Consulting. All Rights Reserved. For more information, examples, tools, and more visit SoundOut.org