There are simple ways that classroom teachers can foster Meaningful Student Involvement everyday. By infusing students as partners throughout teaching and learning, teachers can empower, engage and enliven the experience of every learner in their classes.
Through the years we’ve been teaching and training and leading projects in K-12 schools across the United States, SoundOut has collected best practices of all kinds. Here are some ways Meaningful Student Involvement can happen everyday.
Tips for Teachers
Following are some tips for teachers who
Tip #1. Respect All Students, Everywhere, All the Time
- Learn students’ names and use them frequently.
- Show students you’re interested in them through deliberate interactions, thoughtful words and kindness.
- Teach students about and foster student/adult partnerships in order to flip the traditional passive student role they assume.
Tip #2. Build School Belonging and Student Ownership
- Students can become meaningfully involved in your class by evaluating your lessons, creating your learning materials, facilitating activities for their peers, co-teaching with teachers, being peer mediators, tutoring younger students or peers, or contributing in other areas. After school student engagement in extracurricular activities, sports and more should focus on belonging and ownership of the learning experience.
Tip #3. Recognize and Share Each Partner’s Worth
- Challenge students to do their best and share your confidence in their ability to do many things well. Make your expectations clear and give them space to develop their expectations for you. Encourage perseverance, facilitate applied learning and teach critical thinking. When students are ready to take action to improve their learning experience, make classroom learning better, or improve their schools, work through the Cycle of Engagement.
Tip #4. Accentuate Cooperation Instead of Competition
- Structure classroom learning so students experience feel safe, secure, supported, and ready to learn. Acknowledge individual improvement and group work instead of emphasizing who is smartest, fastest, or most talented. Give recognition freely and compliment individual and group effort without people students against each other.
Tip #5. Teach Student Voice Skills
- Empathy, communication, responsiveness, teamwork and collaboration and many other skills need to be taught, modeled and stressed. Be aware of and prevent teasing, gossiping, excluding, and other bullying behaviors, which are all expressions of student voice. Have the students role play partners and equity skills; ensure students and adults model the behaviors you want to reinforce.
Tip #6. Teach Problem-Solving Skills
To foster self-awareness and self-control have students use the following steps:
- Ask, “What is the problem?”
- Ask, “What can I do?”
- Make a list of ideas.
- Decide which one to try.
- Try it.
- Ask, “Did it work?”
- If not, ask, “What will I do now?”
Tip #7. Foster Skill Building and Knowledge Sharing About Schools
- Provide opportunities for students to discuss their ideas for education and make decisions regarding learning, teaching and leadership in schools. Learn which skills to focus on and what knowledge to share with students. Establish a classroom action team to engage students’ interests and concerns and promote Meaningful Student Involvement. Build a school climate to support student voice by having students and staff write down behaviors and attitudes they’ve seen that are focused on improving schools, Meaningful Student Involvement and sharing student voice, and acknowledge the identified students.
Tip #8. Help Students Discover Their Educational Strengths and Talents
- Provide time for students to imagine themselves doing something in the education system that is outstanding and worthwhile. After they set goals for themselves, discuss ways to reach their goals, and brainstorm choices they may need to make.
Tip #9. Model Tenacity, Emotional Maturity, and Healthy Attitudes
- Be organized, consistent and use appropriate coping skills. Be genuine and avoid embarrassing or using sarcasm with students.
Tip #10. Involve Parents To Foster a Bonding, Nurturing Parent-Child Relationship
- Help parents see that they are their student’s most important teachers, and that as role models they need to spend quality time teaching, training and exhibiting those habits and values they want their child to have. (For tips on how to encourage such a relationship, see our Parents Tips.)