We need to re-connect students to the love of learning.
We need to transform schools in radical but practical ways.
Join SoundOut’s Adam F.C. Fletcher on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 for a powerful, pragmatic, yet radical workshop called “Engagement through Meaningful Student Involvement,” hosted by the Eastern Suffolk BOCES.
Description: Personalize your job, improve your school’s culture, and build new skills and knowledge within yourself with our dynamic, engaging workshop. Participants re-engage with their job, the purpose of education, and the point of democracy.
2: How To Re-Engage Students
Description: Examine the basics, facts and best practices nationwide for getting students engaged and excited to be in schools. Participants in this workshop learn powerful concepts, explore substantial stories, and get unique tools.
3: How To Meaningfully Involve Students
Description: Meaningful Student Involvement relies on intentional relationships developed with power, trust and respect. Participants explore possibilities and create sustainable outcomes for students as learning partners.
4: Nontraditional Student Leadership
Description: Engage all students as leaders with effective, exciting and realistic activities and ideas. Participants in this workshop research, plan next steps, and more with powerful tools, deep learning, and significant opportunities to challenge themselves and grow their classrooms.
Creating powerful, practical and effective learning opportunities should the goal of every educator committed to Meaningful Student Involvement. When students have voice, authority, and take action to improve in learning, they find meaning in what they’re doing. Working to build student commitment to community, democracy and education requires Meaningful Student Involvement in learning.
Learning design happens before education happens in schools. While it cannot and should not capture every single part of the educative process, learning design should consider several important elements. Each of these can affect Meaningful Student Involvement, and can be affected by Meaningful Student Involvement.
Elements of Learning Design
Designing learning includes deciding what you’re going to teach, how you’re going to teach it, who is going to teach, and what the outcomes are going to be. Educators call this learning design.
Meaningful student involvement in learning design can center on infusing the Cycle of Student Engagement into whatever activity you’re facilitating. You can learn about the Cycle here »
When you’re considering meaningfully involving students in designing learning, you might start with authorizing them to take action by introducing the learning to them. To do this, you can share with students why they are learning a specific topic. Teach them about engagement styles and teaching habits, and ask them what the best possible ways there are to learn specific materials. Show them primary materials, tools, timelines, deadlines, related topics, and specific deliverables from the learning.
Teach students that the way learning is designed affects all learners both positively and otherwise. Encourage them to ask critical questions and share their authentic responses. Ultimately, show them how their perspectives on learning an issue are informed by the ways that issue is taught both within and outside of the classroom, and that all learning extends far beyond the classroom walls. This is Meaningful Student Involvement in learning design.
There is a lot of action happening to support Meaningful Student Involvement in Pennsylvania. This work is substantive and sustained, and will transform education. Following is a summary of different tools, examples and more from Pennsylvania specifically.
Meaningful Student Involvement is not a new phenomenon in Pennsylvania. Student voice has been making itself heard statewide for decades, too. In one example from 1968, on the day following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., more than 250 African American students at William Penn Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania, refused to attend class. Instead the students quietly barricaded themselves in the auditorium of the school to commence Black Pride Day. (Wright D. C., 2003) This is student voice in action.
Student involvement in wellness goals was promoted by having students work with local education agencies to develop Local Wellness Policies. Participating in the research, evaluation and re-design of school nutrition policies, student engagement was shown to increase, as did student acceptance in an array of health-related areas. Research found this approach may have promise in the area of obesity prevention. (Jomaa, L. H., E. McDonnell, et al. (2010) “Student Involvement in Wellness Policies: A Study of Pennsylvania Local Education Agencies,” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 42(6): 372-379)
Another example of systems change is SoundOut’s work in Pennsylvania with the Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time (APOST). We supported building the understanding of Meaningful Student Involvement with that network in the early 2010s with materials, speaking and training.
There are a great deal of resources to support Meaningful Student Involvement in Pennsylvania. For instance, a lot of research has been conducted regarding students’ roles in education, including a 1972 survey of 318 administrators in Ohio and Pennsylvania that indicated 60% planning some kind of student participation in decision-making. In this study, the author claims to have found more instances of constructive student actions and involvement than are reported in the current literature. (Yarnel, E.B. (1972) Student Involvement as an Administrative Technique in Decision Making by the Chief School Officer. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Ohio University.)
Here are more tools about Meaningful Student Involvement in Pennsylvania
Since 2002, the SoundOut Student Voice Summits have served as launching pads for meaningful student involvement in districts across the United States.
In a special in-school program, the SoundOut Student Voice Summit engages groups of traditional and non-traditional student leaders and focuses their energy, knowledge and ideas on how students can improve schools.
Using a series of hands-on, interactive activities, students share their concerns about school and ideas for what can change. Through skill-building and knowledge-sharing exercises, students also increase their sense of efficacy and their desire to be active agents of positive education transformation.
The closing of the SoundOut Student Voice Summit features students presenting their own school improvement plans.
Afterward, plans will be implemented, each school will create a report, and San Rafael City Schools will celebrate the outcomes locally, and the results will be shared internationally by Adam Fletcher.
Between 30-100 traditional and non-traditional student leaders elementary, middle or senior high schools
A smaller group of highly supportive, engaged, and sustainably involved adult allies, including teachers, building leaders, parents, and/or district officials.
Each school identifies student/adult partner teams
The SoundOut Newsletter shares the latest news and updates from SoundOut, including research, tools, examples and more related to Meaningful Student Involvement, student voice, student engagement, and more. Sign up here »
“The SoundOut fan club keeps growing! Thanks so much for talking with us about student voice. There are so many specific cries for help in implementing student voice, and I want our programs to reach out to you for more extensive training at their sites. Schools need YOU!”
—Rudi Bertschi, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Are you a K-12 school, education agency, or nonprofit seeking to build stronger, broader, and deeper alliances to promote student voice, student engagement, Meaningful Student Involvement and student/adult partnerships?
Are you a education reform organization seeking to strengthen the relationships, alignment, and power of students and adults to work together?
If so, SoundOut can share tools, lessons learned, and approaches that help education and organizations find a strategic and valued role in building powerful and transformative movements for students to improve schools.
Since 2002, we have partnered with more than 300 K-12 schools, dozens of districts, and more than 20 education agencies across the United States and Canada to infuse Meaningful Student Involvement in school transformation. We have written dozens of publications, been published internationally, spoke and facilitated at hundreds of events, and been cited more than 1,000 times for our contributions to this movement.
Better Serving Teens through School Library–Public Library Collaborations by Cherie P. Pandora and Stacey Hayman for ABC-CLIO. August 15, 2013.
Socially Responsible Literacy: Teaching Adolescents for Purpose and Power by Paula M. Selvester and Deborah G. Summers for Teachers College Press. 2012.
Aim High, Achieve More: How to Transform Urban Schools Through Fearless Leadership by Yvette Jackson and Veronica McDermott for ASCD. 2012.
Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Immersive Interfaces: Virtual Worlds, Gaming, and Simulation by Charles Wankel, Patrick Blessinger, Jurate Stanaityte and Neil Washington for Emerald Group Publishing. 2012.
The Student Voice Handbook: Bridging the Academic/Practitioner Divide by Warren Kidd and Gerry Czerniawski for Emerald Group Publishing. 2011.
Young People’s Voices in Physical Education and Youth Sport by Mary O’Sullivan and Ann MacPhail for Routledge. July 12, 2010.
A School District’s Journey to Excellence: Lessons From Business and Education by Bill McNeal and Tom Oxholm for Corwin Press. July 3, 2008.
Communities that Learn, Lead, and Last: Building and Sustaining Educational Expertise by Giselle O. Martin-Kniep for John Wiley & Sons. 2008.
International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School by Dennis Thiessen and Alison Cook-Sather for Springer. June 3, 2007.
“Student school board reps are being heard” by W. Yost for the Sacramento Bee. January 25, 2007.
Designs and Methods for Youth-Led Research by Melvin Delgado for SAGE. 2006.
Students Are Stakeholders, Too!: Including Every Voice in Authentic High School Reform by Edie Holcomb for Corwin Press. 2006.
Lift Every Voice: African American Students’ Beliefs of Their School Climate by Constinia Charbonnett for West Virginia University. 2005.
“Youth Development, Participation, and School Reform: Creating Opportunities and Supports for Student Decision-making in a High School” by Matthew Calvert for University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2004.
“Students matter in school reform: leaving fingerprints and becoming leaders” by Jerusha Osberg, Denise Pope and Mollie Galloway for International Journal of Leadership in Education: Theory and Practice. 2006.