U.S. Office of Students and Youth

The Office of Students and Youth is a former program of the United States Office of Education, now known as the United States Department of Education. Launched in 1969, the first leader of the office was Toby Moffet.

Activities

the office was created for several reasons:

  • To seek technical and financial assistance for innovative student-run programs
  • Keep USOE tuned in to students, and
  • Present a national overview of school tensions and ways of dealing with them
  • Run the Student Information Center in Washington, D.C., staffed mainly by local students, the center collects information on innovations in public high schools, especially those started by students; student rights; and participation in governance.

The Student Information Center also established a clearinghouse of information on secondary school issues, especially student-initiated reforms.

Citations

  • Moffett, A.J., Jr. (May 1970) “Youth Gets a Voice in New Student Center,” Nation’s Schools, 85(5). pp. 57-59.

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Every Student in Every School All of the Time

There are almost countless ways that every student shares student voice everyday. Are adults ready to listen? This article shares what student voice is, what student voice does, and whether student voice can make a difference in learning, teaching and leadership.

SoundOut defines student voice this way:

Student voice is any expression of any young person about anything, anytime, anywhere for any purpose as it relates to learning, teaching and education.

That means student voice is not the same as student leadership, student engagement, or other student activities. While all of those are some of the ways student voice is shared, they are not the only ways.

There are so many ways student voice happens. When a young person participates in class, they are sharing student voice. If they etch graffiti onto a hallway locker, they are sharing student voice. If they put on a suit and present at a school board meeting, they are sharing student voice. Here are some more ways students share student voice:

  • Attendance or skipping class
  • Submitting assignments or cheating and plagurizing
  • Completing group projects or not completing group projects
  • Voting or abstaining from voting
  • Complying or complaining
  • Joining clubs and teams or leaving fast
  • Mentoring or bullying

In some schools, student voice is treated as a synonym for student leadership. Only students who follow adult agendas, behave in ways adults approve, and decide things the ways adults would present student voice that is accepted by adults. In other schools, no student voice is ever valid, and every adult is always presented as having all authority over student expressions, no matter what they are. Neither of these is a true reality though.

Instead, as the list above shows, every action by any student, anywhere in school for any reason constitutes student voice—whether or not adults approve of it. With student voice constantly present, the question is not whether students are ready to share student voice—its whether adults are willing and prepared to listen to it.

There are many ways adults can embrace, engage and infuse student voice for students of all ages and all abilities for any purpose. Freechild’s sister program, SoundOut.org, shares the following as ways to do this:

  • Teach students about their voices: Rather than simply going through their days without consciousness, educators can teach every student about student voice
  • Teach students about schools: Many students spend 13 years in schools without ever understanding what it is they are part of. Help students understand the purpose, structure, activities, and outcomes of education
  • Teach students about improving schools: Share with learners how they are part of a system that includes grades, assessments, projects, reports, and democracy. Show them who affects them and what they can do to affect others, and engage them in activities to improve learning, teaching and leadership
  • Teach students about Meaningful Student Involvement: It is one thing to know about all of this, and another thing to actually do something about it. When student voice is activated for the purpose of connecting students to education, community, and democracy young people can learn most effectively

There are many other steps to take and a lot of examples available. For more information on engaging student voice, contact us today!

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Teacher Mindsets About Meaningful Student Involvement

Over the last decade, there has been a lot written about growth mindsets. There has been a lot said for adults learning about the concept, and teaching students about the idea. Here I want to elaborate on the role of growth mindsets for meaningful student involvement.

This graphic shows the differences between the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.
This graphic shows the differences between the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.

In the 1990s, Carol Dweck started writing about growth mindsets. Centered on students’ perceptions of failure, Dweck found that some students came back quickly from failure and some students were devastated by failure. By studying their perceptions of failure, Dweck identified that the difference was that some students had a growth mindset and believed they could get smarter, while others had a fixed mindset and thought they would never succeed.

Testing whether those mindsets could be changed for the positive, Dweck and other researchers discovered that fixed mindsets could be changed with specific interventions.

I began learning about mindsets a decade ago. Applying what I found to the K-12 schools I worked in, I found that educators’ mindsets often determined which student voice they would listen to, which students would be meaningfully involved in schools, and which students would be focused on to engage. These seemingly innate perceptions about students were routinely informed by student identities and performance in schools, and were far from the equity that many educators say they aspire to.

Fixed Mindsets about Students

I quickly found that student involvement in traditional school activities, such as extracurricular clubs and athletics, was predicated on whether teachers thought the students who were involved deserved to be involved. If they deserved it, they let the students know. I call this gatekeeping. Gatekeeping allows certain students to be involved and keeps roles for teachers as gatekeepers. Gatekeepers decide which students can be involved according to various spoken and unspoken factors, including:

  • Academic achievement
  • Likeability
  • Compliance
  • Race
  • Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
  • Socio-economic background

These “gates” are predicated on bias, allowing and disallowing some student voice to be valued while other student voice is silenced. It is the educators’ mindset or the join mindsets of several educators or school administration that permits, accepts and sustains this bias. This fixed mindset about students believes:

  • Students have to deserve or earn the right to have student voice heard
  • Only certain students selected by adults should be heard and other students should not be heard
  • There is a “perfect” or “right” type of student voice, and every other student voice is imperfect or isn’t right
  • Student voice should reproduce teacher voice
  • Only certain students have innate abilities to share student voice, and other students do not have this ability

Growth Mindsets about Students

A growth mindset about student involvement, student voice and student engagement allows and encourages all students to experience Meaningful Student Involvement whether adults accept them or not. Educators see that all learners have student voice, and all students understand they deserve to be involved — not because they’re particularly special, but because they are learners, and all learners should be heard, seen, acknowledge, and empowered.

When educators have growth mindsets about students, they…

  • Believe every student voice deserves to be heard
  • Make space for students to share what they want to, rather than just what adults want them to share
  • Work to deliberately engage every single student every single day in every single way possible
  • Teach students to focus on improving how they share student voice, not which students share or what they share
  • Focus on why student voice matters and why students share how they do
  • Believe in increasing others teachers’ capacities to meaningfully involve students

Decades ago, Dweck and her colleagues showed that teacher mindsets directly and deeply impact student mindsets. One of the informal findings from my work has been that when teachers think students are capable of positively transforming schools, students think they are positively capable of transforming schools. While their actions are (luckily) not contingent on adults believing in them, more students are going to become more active in education transformation when we check ourselves.

How do adult mindsets affect student voice, student engagement, and Meaningful Student Involvement in your school? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

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Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam Fletcher
The cover to Adam Fletcher’s Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change (2005).

This e-book describes the elements of meaningful student involvement in the context of school change efforts. It presents a five-step cycle of listening, validating, authorizing, mobilizing, and reflecting on student voice; a tool to measure the quality of activities involving student voice; and several examples of what students as researchers, planners, teachers, evaluators, decision-makers, and advocates look like in practice, at elementary, middle, and high schools. These tools include student-created district budgets, decision-making roles for students on committees for hiring teachers and principals, and student-led forums and conferences. Additionally, it presents barriers to implementing this type of reform and possible strategies to meet these challenges.

(28 pgs, 2005, FREE)

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Articles by SoundOut

Following are articles written for SoundOut about a variety of topics related to Meaningful Student Involvement. These publications cover student voice, student engagement, student/adult partnerships and more.

Articles on Meaningful Student Involvement

  1. Intro to Meaningful Student Involvement
  2. Making Student Involvement Meaningful
  3. Understanding Meaningfulness
  4. Tips on Action for Meaningful Student Involvement
  5. Spheres of Meaningful Student Involvement
  6. Critical Questions about Meaningful Student Involvement
  7. Measuring the People in Meaningful Student Involvement
  8. Measuring Activities in Meaningful Student Involvement
  9. Measuring Meaningful Student Involvement
  10. Strategies for Meaningful Student Involvement
  11. Measuring the Outcomes of Meaningful Student Involvement
  12. Elements of Meaningful Student Involvement
  13. Planning for Meaningful Student Involvement
  14. The Characteristics of Meaningful Student Involvement
  15. Fully Meaningful Schools
  16. Learning from Meaningful Student Involvement
  17. Meaningful Student Involvement Activities
  18. Whole School Meaningful Student Involvement
  19. Reflection and Meaningful Student Involvement
  20. Methods for Meaningful Student Involvement
  21. Meaningful Student Involvement for Teachers
  22. Grade-Specific Approaches to Meaningful Student Involvement
  23. Adult Learning through Meaningful Student Involvement
  24. Preparing for Meaningful Student Involvement
  25. Places Meaningful Student Involvement Can Happen
  26. Issues Addressed Through Meaningful Student Involvement
  27. People Affected by Meaningful Student Involvement
  28. Impacts of Meaningful Student Involvement on Learning
  29. Impacts of Meaningful Student Involvement on Development
  30. Meaningful Student Involvement Deepens Learning
  31. Meaningful Student Involvement Engages All Students
  32. Meaningful Student Involvement Expands Student Expectations
  33. Meaningful Student Involvement Instills Commitment
  34. Meaningful Student Involvement Provides Systemic Responses
  35. Meaningful Student Involvement Acknowledges Students
  36. Meaningful Student Involvement Creates Student/Adult Partnerships
  37. Meaningful Student Involvement Does NOT Filter Students
  38. Meaningful Student Involvement Recognizes Students Rights
  39. Aims of Meaningful Student Involvement
  40. Learning from Meaningful Student Involvement
  41. Meaningful Student Involvement in North America
  42. Help Us Help Ourselves: Creating Supportive Learning Environments With Students
  43. Student-led Advocacy Success Stories
  44. Ladder of Student Involvement
  45. Students Can Improve Schools
  46. Student-Led Research Planning Guide

Articles on Student Voice

  1. Reasons Why Meaningful Student Involvement Matters
  2. Assessing the Conditions for Student Voice by Michael Fielding
  3. Definitions of Student Voice
  4. Student Voice Tip Sheet
  5. 65 Ways Students Can Share Student Voice
  6. Intro to Student Voice
  7. Why Student Voice? A Research Summary
  8. Student Voice and Student Engagement as a Trojan Horse
  9. Advocate for Student Voice
  10. Adults Must Engage Student Voice
  11. Share Student Voice Daily
  12. Four Kinds of Student Voice
  13. Student Voice in School Building Leadership
  14. Where Student Voice Happens
  15. Overcoming Barriers to Student Voice
  16. Bullying and Student Voice
  17. Convenient or Inconvenient Student Voice
  18. Broadening the Bounds of Involvement: Transforming Schools With Student Voice
  19. Acknowledging Student Voice

Articles on Student Engagement

  1. Multiple Engagement Styles
  2. Five Lessons About Student Engagement
  3. Intro to Student Engagement
  4. Defining Student Engagement: A Literature Review
  5. Cycle of Engagement

Articles on Barriers to Students

  1. Adult-Driven Student Voice
  2. Adultism in Schools
  3. Barriers to School Transformation
  4. 20 Ways to Stop Student Tokenism
  5. 51 Ways Student Tokenism Happens
  6. Students Sabotaging Meaningful Student Involvement
  7. Education Structure as a Barrier to Meaningful Student Involvement
  8. School Culture as a Barrier to Meaningful Student Involvement
  9. Students as Barriers
  10. Adults as Barriers to Meaningful Student Involvement
  11. Students on a Pedestal
  12. Intro to Student Tokenism

Articles about Student/Adult Partnerships

  1. Student/Adult Partnership Activities
  2. Elements of Student/Adult Partnerships
  3. Types of Relationships between Students and Adults
  4. Four Ways Adults Treat Students
  5. Adult Perspectives of Students

Articles for Understanding the Education System

  1. Understanding State Education Agencies
  2. How Decisions Are Made In School
  3. Learning to Learn
  4. Parts of the Education System
  5. The Purpose of Schools
  6. Extracurricular Activities
  7. Modern Schools
  8. Engaging the Disengaged

Articles about Students on School Boards

  1. Students on School Boards Fact Sheet
  2. Terms Related to Students on School Boards
  3. Activities for Students on School Boards
  4. Rationale for Students on School Boards
  5. How to Get Students on School Boards
  6. Options for Student Voice on School Boards
  7. Should School Boards Elect or Select Student Members?
  8. State-By-State Summary of Laws Affecting Students on School Boards
  9. State-By-State Summary of Students on School District Boards
  10. State-By-State Summary of Students on District School Boards
  11. State-By-State Summary of Students on State Boards of Education
  12. Students on School Boards in Canada
  13. Province-By-Province Summary of Laws Affecting Students in Decision-Making
  14. Summary of Students on District School Boards
  15. Students on District School Boards
  16. Students on State Boards of Education
  17. Students on School Boards Toolbox
  18. Involving Students on School Boards
  19. Barriers to Students on School Boards
  20. Quotes about Students on School Boards
  21. Critical Questions
  22. Publications Related to Students on School Boards
  23. FAQs
  24. Sources

Reviews

  1. Review: Fires in the Bathroom
  2. Review: “Student Voice in School Reform” and “Opening the Floodgates”
  3. Review: “What Works in Education Reform: Putting Young People at the Center”
  4. Review: How to Improve Your School by Giving Pupils a Voice
  5. Review: Critical Voices in School Reform; Students Living through Change
  6. Review: Student Leadership and Restructuring: A Case Study
  7. Review: Learning from Student Voices
  8. Review: FORUM Special Issue on Student Voice
  9. Tools for Listening to Student Voice
  10. Review of In Our Own Words: Students’ Perspectives on School
  11. A Review of “Student Perspectives on School Improvement”
  12. Review of “Authorizing Students’ Perspectives: Toward Trust, Dialogue, and Change in Education”
  13. Review: The Question of the Student in Educational Reform
  14. Review: The Roles of Youth in Society; A Reconceptualization
  15. Review: Look Who’s Talking Now; Student Views of Restructuring Schools
  16. Review: Putting Students at the Centre in Education Reform
  17. Review: “Listening To Urban Kids: School Reform And The Teachers They Want”
  18. Feature on Alison Cook-Sather
  19. Feature on Michael Fielding
  20. Feature on Roger Holdsworth
  21. Feature on Dana Mitra
  22. Feature on Adam Fletcher

 

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Meaningful Student Involvement in 21st Century Community Learning Centers

For more than 20 years, the US Department of Education has been funding a program called the 21st Century Community Learning Centers across the country. Focused on supporting student learning during out-of-school time (OST), the program has a lot of students of color, low income students, and other learners who face disparities in learning, teaching and leadership throughout their educational experiences. This article is about the role of Meaningful Student Involvement in these programs.

This is the logo for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
This is the logo for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers, or 21st CCLCs, are working in almost every state across the country to help students in high-poverty and low-performing schools get more academic enrichment. Focused primarily on providing a safe and supportive learning environments, the 21st CCLCs focus on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. 21st CCLC also help in other subject areas in schools, including language arts, social studies, heath and art, as well as other topics, too. All of this is intended to improve student learning,

One of the most ambitious aspects of some 21st CCLCs are their efforts to foster student-centered learning. Student-centered learning often includes student-driven interests, personalized learning, and other strategies that place students in the middle instead of educators. There are missed opportunities hiding in plain sight that can enhance 21st CCLCs though, and one of them is Meaningful Student Involvement.

Meaningful Student Involvement is the sustained systemic infusion of student voice throughout education in order to foster student engagement in school, communities, and democracy. Meaningful Student Involvement can be a key to successful 21st CCLCs. Since 2008, I have worked in dozens of schools across Washington state and beyond, including supporting the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the New York State Student Support Services Center as they implement their 21st CCLCs programs in the past. All of my work through SoundOut has focused on Meaningful Student Involvement.

In each of these programs, I have taught educators of all stripes different ways Meaningful Student Involvement can improve their programs. This includes…

  • Meaningful Student Involvement in learning and teaching
  • Meaningful Student Involvement in program design
  • Meaningful Student Involvement in program staffing
  • Meaningful Student Involvement in program evaluation, and
  • Meaningful Student Involvement in the climate of 21st CCLCs

Each of these has allowed educators in these programs to improve student-driven learning in many ways. For instance, actively fostering Meaningful Student Involvement can empower learners of all ages with the skills and knowledge they need to investigate, engineer, and implement solutions as they create new knowledge and learning for themselves and their peers. Implementing Meaningful Student Involvement to improve the climate of 21st CCLCs can look like embracing social-emotional learning through practical steps reflecting the values and perspectives of schools, families, and communities students belong to.

I have discovered that embracing Meaningful Student Involvement doesn’t always come easily to 21st CCLCs staff though. Despite their best intentions, it can be an uphill climb for educators who’ve never experienced positive, proactive Meaningful Student Involvement to do the same.

That’s why SoundOut provides a variety of tools and supports to scaffold educators’ learning to support Meaningful Student Involvement in 21st CCLCs. Through my workshops and keynote speeches, 21st CCLCs staff can find practical ways of understanding Meaningful Student Involvement, effective implementations of Meaningful Student Involvement in programming, and powerful ways to measure the impact and outcomes of Meaningful Student Involvement in 21st CCLCs.

Contact SoundOut today to discuss how to bring us to your area for a workshop on Meaningful Student Involvement in 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

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Elsewhere Online

The Guide to Student Voice Advertisement
Order The Guide to Student Voice today!

Student Burnout and Student Voice

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravished K-12 schools across the United States and around the world. After months or years out of physical school buildings, students have been brought back into classroom learning. However, a new epidemic has emerged throughout schools, and it is best summarized as student burnout. This article is about the connections between student burnout and student voice.

Student burnout happens when learners of all ages have had enough. Consciously or unconsciously, they’ve surrendered their will to learn. In response, they have become apathetic about learning and disconnected from school. Student burnout can be obvious or subtle, intentional or accidental, incidental or sustained.

When students throw trash around bathrooms, fight on social media posts, run out of classrooms, or skip school, they are being obvious. However, missing assignments, staring out the window and answering questions with rote memorization instead of thoughtful replies can all be indications of student burnout, too.

At SoundOut, we’ve discovered there is an intersection between student burnout and student voice. Working with more than 500 schools globally over the last 20 years, we’ve found the ability of students to express themselves about learning and schools is key to retaining positive possibilities for education. When students have authentic opportunities to share their knowledge, ideas, opinions, and concerns about education, they stay engaged in learning, teaching, and leadership throughout schools. When students feel compressed, repressed, or oppressed within schools, they disconnect from the teachers with the best intentions, the classes with the finest honed curriculums, and the most supportive learning environments to be crafted.

5 Steps to Fight Student Burnout

While we continue to move into this post-pandemic reality of educating students in highly compromised classrooms, we should center all of our work on engaging students by empowering authentic student voice. Here are some ways you can do that.

  1. Make space for student voice everyday »
  2. Build the power of students to share their voices »
  3. Network with other educators committed to fostering Meaningful Student Involvement in classrooms »
  4. Engage students with passion-oriented teaching methods »
  5. Consciously foster student voice in your classroom all the time »

If you see the potential and possibilities for student voice to combat student burnout but you’re not sure where to start, contact us today. SoundOut is excited to partner with K-12 educators and schools that are committed to Meaningful Student Involvement — find out why!

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Indicators of Student Engagement

In more than 20 years of academic research on student engagement, scholars have constantly tried to identify what reflects student engagement. Some studies have focused on teachers’ reflections about student engagement, while others have fixated on supposedly objective perspectives on students’ time-on-task and other observable phenomenon.

When I became Washington state’s first-ever student engagement specialist in 2000, I conducted a three year action research project to identify and advocate for the active, intentional, and practical engagement of every learner throughout K-12 schools. Since then I have supported more than 2,000 schools in their efforts to foster, expand, and sustain student engagement.

These are Adam F.C. Fletcher's five indicators of student engagement for SoundOut.org.
These are Adam F.C. Fletcher’s five indicators of student engagement for SoundOut.org.

SoundOut’s Indicators of Student Engagement

Following are the the five main indicators of student engagement I have identified through my work with SoundOut and beyond.

  1. Academic engagement is repeatedly choosing connection with curriculum, learning, and assessment within schools. Frequently positioned as “book learning” or “classroom learning,” academic engagement is shown through formal, structured, and specific activities and demonstrated through similar outcomes;
  2. Emotional engagement happens through Social Emotional Learning in classrooms and beyond. Emotional engagement is demonstrated through increased emotional intelligence, or EQ, and isn’t simply attached to curriculum. Instead, EQ is reflected in the interplay between classroom, climate, community, and interpersonal / intra-personal exhibition;
  3. Social engagement is reflected in connections students make through peer-to-peer relationships as well as with younger and older students, teachers and administrators, student support staff, and the broader school community. Again reflecting intra-personal engagement, the social indicator of student engagement is a direct reflection of culture and climate throughout the school environment;
  4. Cultural engagement is demonstrated through the continuous connections a student makes to language, history, dance, clothing, songs, and other types of cultural learning experiences within schools and beyond. Its obvious display isn’t the only way cultural engagement happens; rather, it is through stated, obvious, and demonstrable connectivity that students make their engagement known;
  5. Personal engagement is shown through students’ repeated connections to what matters most within themselves and throughout the world around them; and many other forms of student engagement. This is a largely interpersonal indicator, apparent only in the focuses of learners as they demonstrate interest, show consistency, and practice any given area of personal engagement.

All of these types of engagement happen within schools right now. However, with the exception of academic engagement, they are often treated as coincidental to the schooling experience. Research and practice reflected in literature from the last 20 years shows that quite the contrary, these indicators of engagement are essential for learner success in many ways.

With the breadth of student engagement clearly understood, it becomes easier to understand the rampant reality of student disengagement in schools today. This is what makes it essential to radically rethink how students are engaged throughout the education system.

What do you think of these indicators? I would love to read your thoughts and ideas, so share them in the comments. Interested in learning more? See the links below or contact SoundOut right now!

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SoundOut School Board Training

In a climate where more attention is being paid to student voice in the classroom, many are asking how school boards might approach incorporating students into their work in a way that goes beyond inviting someone to report on Homecoming festivities.

Bring SoundOut to your school district or conference for a workshop dedicated to understanding the power of student voice and the possibilities of student representation on the board of education. Adam Fletcher, a leading expert on student voice and representation, explores the benefits, challenges and opportunities for engaging students in the work of boards in a deep and meaningful way.

Outcomes

Workshop outcomes include participants…

  • Learning what student voice is, what it does, who it is for and how it happens;
  • Exploring roles for students on school boards, including activities, topics and outcomes that are appropriate for them, and;
  • Understanding how students are engaged on boards, including recruitment, training, maintaining and evaluating their roles.

For more information including fees and scheduling, contact SoundOut today!

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How to Sound Out: Making School Meaningful

For more than 20 years, SoundOut has been supporting Meaningful Student Involvement. But what makes school meaningful for students? After working with thousands of learners in more than 500 K-12 schools across the U.S., Canada and beyond, we have found that there are four steps every school can take.

To make school meaningful, every student should learn about learning, learn about schooling, learn about meaning, and learn about voice.
To make school meaningful, every student should learn about learning, learn about schooling, learn about meaning, and learn about voice.

To make school meaningful for every learner, everywhere, all the time, students should do these steps. Every student should…

  • Learn about Learning
  • Learn about Schooling
  • Learn about Meaning
  • Learn about Voice

Following is an exploration of each step for how to sound out by making school meaningful for all learners.

Learn about Learning

Learning is treated like a puzzle in schools today, where educators cryptically choose is learned, how its taught, why its important, where learning happens, and what the outcomes should be. However, through Meaningful Student Involvement students deliberately learn what learning is and why it matters; how learning happens and how they learn best; they choose when and where learning happens; and students themselves select who can teach them and what they want to learn.

Instead of acting as a sage-on-the-stage, teachers become learning facilitators and coaches whose mission is to help infuse the love of education into the hearts and minds of all learners. In places where Meaningful Student Involvement happens, starting at the earliest ages, students become empowered, engaged co-facilitators for themselves and their peers, interacting across grade levels and beyond individual topics to experience entwined learning across curricular areas in order to have rich, holistic learning experiences. Constructivist approaches ensure appropriate learning occurs, while jointly identified learning goals encourage student ownership and student agency throughout school. Learning about learning is the first step toward Meaningful Student Involvement for all learners, everywhere, all the time.

Learn about Schooling

Almost every student goes through schools without understanding what they are part of, why it matters, and how it operates. Instead, they go through the education system with the expectation that at some point they’ll be finished. Rather than being the passive recipients of adult-driven decision-making, all students of all abilities in all grade levels can become active, engaged, and equitable partners with educators and parents throughout the entire educative process. Starting in kindergarten and extending through to graduation, learning about schooling includes understanding the structure of the education system; the practices throughout the entire educational journey; the outcomes of schools; and the surrounding factors that make schooling a necessary and productive part of everyone’s learning in life. Learning about schooling is the second step towards engaging all students everywhere through Meaningful Student Involvement.

Learn about Meaning

Making meaning in our lives, our learning, and schooling should be the core of every students’ experience in K-12 education. As students learn about their attitudes and abilities, they should come to understand the meaning of what they’re acquiring starting in kindergarten, and why it matters all the way through graduation. When they understand why schooling matters for themselves, students can do almost anything necessary in order to learn. This is completely opposite from how many schools address meaningfulness today; instead, they act as if students need to be able to do anything demanded of them without any sense of purpose or meaning. SoundOut’s approach to Meaningful Student Involvement is contingent on students finding the meaning of their schooling experience, no matter what age or ability they have. This is the third step.

Learn about Voice

The last step in Meaningful Student Involvement happens when students learn about student voice; that is, any expression of any student about anything related to learning, schools, and education. When students learn what student voice is, how student voice is shared, why student voice matters, and who student voice is shared by and for, students find the deepest possible meaning and purpose for schooling. This can allow students to be effective and equitable partners throughout the education system, from the smallest classroom lesson to the largest hallway traffic to the most important school board meeting. Most importantly though, it can also allow them to be active agents of change in the systems that affects them most, including education, community, and democracy. That’s the goal of Meaningful Student Involvement.

Conclusion

As this article shows and our experience attests to, its entirely feasible for every student of any ability level in every grade to experience Meaningful Student Involvement every single day. There is a lot of work involved in this; however, this is what schools should be for: ensuring the meaningfulness of every student’s life every single day in every single way possible.

To find out how SoundOut can help you make school meaningful for every learner, contact us now »

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Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook by Adam Fletcher http://amzn.to/2xL3obn