Skip to main content

Want Real Ed Reform? 5 Ways Students Should Be Included

As a graduate journalism student over 20 years ago, I worked on a thesis project centered on education reform news reporting. I was analyzing how often education reporters included students in their stories about education. Probably no surprise….it was almost non-existent.
Traditionally, no entity has ignored their primary customer, consumer or constituent more than education with students. I was fortunate enough early on as a beginning teacher to discover the power of student voice and student-generated ideas. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from asking my students what they thought, what they are interested in and where would they like things to go.
If we are serious about providing each and every student a truly transformational 21st century education, then we may want to consider the following five areas for asking our students what they think should be done:

Learning Feedback
Having our students reflect on their learning and learning experiences are crucial to both student development, as well as instructional growth. As teachers, we do a lot of things to improve our craft. But again, we rarely ask our students what is working for them and what we can do to help improve their learning experiences. In general, students are both honest and willing to discuss what is going on on with their education. Great teachers have always probably asked - formally or informally - how their students are doing and what can be better. But it’s time to make this a standard. We now have the ability for all educators to regularly engage all of their students about their learning. If we want higher levels of learning, critical thinking and skills, we’re going to all need to learn to get regular feedback from the most important player in education - the student.

Student Survey 1.jpgStudent Survey 4.jpg

Curricular Choice
With the onset of personalized tech and learning, we now have unlimited number of ways for us to offer choice to our students. Higher forms of learning are predicated on the learner owning larger aspects of the learning itself. This happens through choice. If it’s a project, let’s offer different ways of delivering the final product. If it’s a research topic, let’s offer choices on various options. If it’s something to read, let’s not have students read the same thing, but rather read different things and then compare. Choice not only creates buy-in and ownership necessary for higher level learning, but creates an environment and learning culture that fosters innovation, confidence, risk taking and other necessary future skills. Efforts like #20 Time Projects (http://www.20timeineducation.com/), Genius Hour and more are also great example of allowing students greater freedom in the authentic learning they pursue.
maxresdefault.jpg

School Governance
Traditionally, our student involvement in school governance has been limited to cursory efforts such as Associated Student Body and somewhat token officers who have limited access to site leaders. Many districts also have a student on their governing boards, but again these are usually merely symbolic gestures. But with the onset of real democratization in schools, at what levels could our students be involved in the school decisions that do ultimately affect them? Can our could the be involved on curriculum committees, reform efforts, leadership teams, budget committees, professional learning communities and more? This might seem like something unrealistic or impossible to some, but it’s really not. If we value their opinion in the classroom, we can also value it out of the classroom when decisions are being crafted that affect the classroom. I believe that our students are capable, ready and desperately needed.
WMS LAP Final Meeting of 15-16 SY - 5-23-16.cropped.jpg

Staffing / Hiring
Schools may not have a more important task or duty than hiring their teachers. And yet again, how often do we consult the primary constituent of teachers (students)? Typically, we don’t. But as a high school principal of a new, 1:1, project-based school (www.minarets.us), we did just that. From almost day one, we include two students on every interview panel - whether that was for teachers, classified positions, coaches or other. Indeed, we went one step further. When we had competitive teacher interviews with outstanding finalists, we invited them back for a second interview that included a live teaching demo with some of our students who in turn provided immediate feedback to the learning activities, structure, engagement and more. As one can imagine, the students and their opinions were were not only vital, but truly insightful. And what a different school culture we enjoyed when students knew that our teaching staff had been selected with student opinion, input and participation.
1424045974937.jpg

Schoolwide Needs / Problems /Challenges
I have personally experienced the success of this many times. Again, we rarely consult the primary people who ultimately experience the results of decisions we make when addressing school wide issues, concerns, or problems. But regardless of our challenge, we should ask students for their input. Not only will they have good ideas, they can be the agents to ultimately implement any ideas. For example, can adults solve or resolve bullying alone? No, we need student participation and leadership to ultimately address these types of things. I have always believed, and have had confirmed many times, that most students truly not only care about their learning, but also their learning environment. If they are trusted and respected appropriately, they can become supporters of our desires to have safe, clean, positive and nurturing learning environments. As a journalism teacher, I always involved them not only in story ideation, but also how to respond to public criticism, school reactions, faculty response and more. As a student leadership advisor, I had great success with challenging students to come up with creative solutions to everything from embracing diversity to special education inclusion and more. I used to challenge all of my students to create and implement School Improvement Projects are part of their semester final. They created events, programs and outreach efforts to address dozens of issues that the adults never would have had the time or capacity for in the least. They can often do what we can’t. Let’s involve them.
Harmony-Girls-1024x743.jpg school improvement part 1.jpg

If we truly want change in our schools, as well as a new type of learner who embraces the skill set we expect from our future learners workers, we better learn to include them in the discussion.

Comments

  1. Real educational activities are the best beneficial action plan to promote the present approaches in futuristic developments in study materials. Including the student stuffs are very much necessary to make the process go ahead for the smoother operation to hire as well as fix the curricula for the proper action in reforming it precisely.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Reforming the education to make the process flows of the current settings so many issues needs to consider. Before starting to reform why the educations needs to be changed first of all try figure out. Lastly the final implementations with the proper discussions are needed to gather the information for the students.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reforming the education to make the process flows of the current settings so many issues needs to consider. Before starting to reform why the educations needs to be changed first of all try figure out. Lastly the final implementations with the proper discussions are needed to gather the information for the students.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Five Ways To Make All Students Into Lead Learners (Teachers)

It has been established long ago that the highest form of learning is teaching. When one is put in the position to teach others, one learns the content and concepts at the highest applied level in order to successfully communicate it to others. This reality has led many educators long ago to turn as much of the instruction in their classroom over to students through student presentations, projects and more. That being said, too many students still never have this opportunity to become Lead Learners - where they learn at the highest level by having the responsibility of teaching others. Here are five ways all educators can expand the opportunity for all students to learn at the highest level by all becoming teachers: STUDENTS AS PROFESSIONAL PRESENTERS
Again, students have been giving presentations in many cases for years in certain courses. I suppose even the early  years of Show & Tell were intended to have every student present, or tell a story. Well, we need to challenge all of ou…

10 Things That Must Change About Educators, Education

There are hundreds of things written daily regarding changes, reforms and new research in the profession of education. But much of this comes from outside entities (researchers, politicians, parents, leaders and others) aimed at educators. It’s time for educators to own the changes, thus owning the profession. We need to truly flip the whole concept of what it means to teach and be a true teacher.This can apply to all educators who understand that we have to redefine the profession.
     Here are my 10 things that must change about the profession and the practitioners:


Professionalism - Teachers need to claim and lead the professional standards of their own profession. Just like in the profession of law enforcement, the system cannot tolerate or endure bad professionals. Cops need to police their own and so do teachers. For too long, we have collectively accepted that there are going to be a certain percentage of just plain “bad” teachers. The fact is that they not only harm the profes…

Let's Drop 'College Ready' and Be 'Career Ready'

Education may not consistently be good at many things. But, it does seem to be great at both acronyms (CTE, PBL, EDI, ELL, SPED, PLC and so on)  and catch phrases (21st century learning, personalized learning, future ready). One of the more popular catchphrases as of late is College & Career Ready. Indeed, the ‘Career’ part is a more recent addition. For years, we really just said (and lived) College Ready. I’m here to suggest it’s time to drop the College Ready and only use Career Ready. Don’t get me wrong. I do think almost everyone needs some sort of post-secondary training, especially in our new globalized economy. But I am suggesting that we use Career Ready only knowing that one’s career path should dictate their post-secondary education or training path. Additionally, it will allow us to focus on the requisite skills and planning required for young people to have lifelong employability in the 21st century. One of the early questions to me is what does college ready really me…