Education is not something we do for students, it’s something we do with students. Research shows that engaging students by giving them voice and choice actually improves student achievement.
- Reading 1: “Student Voice: Pump It Up,” Principal Leadership, September 2014, pp. 28-32.
- Reading 2: “Student-Led Conferences: Personalization in Practice,” Principal Leadership, September 2014, pp. 34-37.
A. Presentation Preparations
The presentation process used with the leadership team or steering committee can be replicated easily for the presentation to the whole staff with the team members as facilitators.
- Distribute links and/or copies of the readings to each discussion participant before the meeting. Encourage the participants to read the selections prior to the meeting—highlighting, annotating, and noting important points.
- Identify a facilitator. Ask participants to read the directions and complete the 10-question Students as Partners survey. The survey has one question written with the principal in mind but can easily be amended for faculty use with this addition:
- I spend as much time participating with my students in activities and eventsoutside of the classroom as I do inside the classroom.
- Total your score and evaluate your outcome.
- Have the discussion facilitator begin the conversation with the discussion prompts in section B below. Divide the team into discussion groups of four to five members. Ask each group to assign a recorder to summarize the responses to these Reading 1 discussion prompts.
- Reconvene the leadership team to debrief and summarize the discussions. As a team, begin to plan the process to bring the staff as a whole along in a rational and productive discussion of the strategies in the articles and/or the additional strategies suggested in the discussion. Team members should be prepared to be facilitators for the presentation to the whole staff. If time is limited for full faculty presentation, have half discuss Reading 1 and half discuss Reading 2. Recorders can then debrief their small group discussions with the full faculty.
B. Presentation to the Full Faculty
- Distribute links and/or copies of both readings to each discussion participant before the meeting. Encourage the participants to read the selection prior to the meeting—highlighting, annotating, and noting important points.
- Divide the faculty into groups of eight to ten.
- Distribute copies of the discussion prompts to each group and assign a recorder in each group to summarize the group discussion. Leadership/steering team members can facilitate and circulate.
- Ask faculty members to ignore their assumptions and to use specific reading selection examples from Reading 1 and Reading 2 to support their comments during group discussions. Use the discussion prompts to continue the conversation in a way that is most relevant to your school.
- Begin the conversation with the discussion prompts.
- In the next five to ten minutes, rank yourself from one to five (five being highest) on each of the 10 items in the Students as Partners survey. Total your score and see how you connect with your students. (An alternate to the first question may be added here.)
- Pick a partner and discuss your strengths in building relationships with students. In what areas do you need improvement? Discuss actions and strategies with your partner that may improve your score. Do you give your students an opportunity to be seen at their best? (That would include classes, sports, band, clubs, etc.) Are you committed to implementing one or two of the discussed strategies?
- Return to your group and discuss questions 6–8. Have your recorder review the summarized discussion notes for accuracy. Submit these notes to the facilitators at the close of the meeting.
- Reading 2 provides a practical example of a strategy that increases student voice; builds relationships between staff, students, and parents; and develops student leadership skills. Read about the impact of student-led conferences in developing student leadership skills in goal setting and meeting the academic, personal, and social goals of each student. (See Module 6 for additional ideas.) Have your recorder review the summarized discussion notes for accuracy. Submit these notes to the facilitators at the close of the meeting.
Extend and Apply
As your school examines strategies and actions that increase student voice and align with your school goals and objectives, perhaps identifying a design team with representation across all stakeholder groups might be a positive next step. The team should review discussion summaries, evaluate existing school plans, and propose initiatives that increase student voice and support the development of student leadership skills. Use the Discussion Guide Planning Templates to document your proposals. Leading discussions about the strategies and initiatives that might be effective at your school and identifying needed professional development are critical elements necessary for accomplishing successful student outcomes.
The design team should write a draft action plan and prepare for collaborative administrative and faculty discussions.