Meaningful student involvement does not just happen. The following elements offer important considerations for anyone wanting to “ramp up” the effect of student voice in their learning environment.
When is student involvement meaningful?
- Partnerships: When students are allies and partners with adults in improving schools.
- Learning & Power: When students have the training and authority to create real solutions to the challenges that schools face in learning, teaching, and leadership.
- Mutual Accountability: When schools, including educators and administrators, are accountable to the direct consumers of schools – students themselves.
- Vital: When student-adult partnerships are a major component of every sustainable, responsive, and systemic approach to transforming schools.
When is student involvement not meaningful?
- Passiveness: When students are regarded as passive recipients in schools, or as empty vessels to be filled with teachers’ knowledge
- Tokenism: When the contributions of students are minimized or tokenized by adults by asking students to “rubber stamp” ideas developed by adults, or by inviting students to sit on committees without real power or responsibility.
- Filtering: When student perspectives, experiences or knowledge are filtered with adult interpretations.
- Unprepared: When students are given problems to solve without adult support or adequate training; or students are trained in leadership skills without opportunities to take on real leadership roles in their school.
Each of these elements influences Meaningful Student Involvement; whether its positive or negative is up to each school.