Students Can Improve Schools

Tools for Students by SoundOut.org.

With all the talk about how schools need to improve and all the different actions students can take to change schools, figuring out where to start can be hard! The following list of actions students can take to improve schools includes all sorts of different ways students can help schools become better places to attend and to learn.

20 Ways Students Can Improve Schools

  1. Identify An Adult Ally In School. Find an adult in your school who is safe, supportive, and empowering. Talk with them about being there for you as you work to improve your own learning and your school, and ask if they’ll be an adult ally to you.
  2. Have A Real Conversation With A Teacher. Ask a teacher what they want to see happen to make schools better places. Have real, frank, open, and honest conversations with other adults, too, each focused on what they want to see happen. Find out if they see any role for students in making those things happen.
  3. Propose A Student-Adult Partnership Program In Your School. Offer a group of students who are willing to talk openly with teachers and administrators about how they think schools should improve, and hold dialogue opportunities for students and adults to talk together.
  4. Lead Other Students In Taking Action. Create a formal or informal group for students who want to make your school a better place. Meet regularly, make plans, and take action.
  5. Have A Mixer. Host a school improvement mixer for students and adults in schools who are concerned with creating better schools to encourage student-adult partnerships.
  6. Meet With School Leaders. Call for a meeting with the principal for students to highlight the concerns and recommendations you have for school.
  7. Support Non-Tokenized Meetings. Talk to adults about meaningfully involving young people in meetings, and consider declining to attend meetings where only one highly involved student is invited.
  8. Hang Out At School. Find an adult ally who will make their classroom a comfortable, safe, and affirming place so students can “hang-out.”
  9. Ask An Adult For Help. If they know about computers, ask them to assist you. If they understand diversity, ask them to teach you.
  10. Recognize Adult Involvement. Don’t assume that just because someone is an adult that they enjoy school. Help them appreciate it by giving credit where its due.
  11. Hold Adults Accountable For Their Mistakes, Challenges, And Failures. Be honest and forthright with adults, while supporting their efforts to improve.
  12. Treat Adults As Individuals. One adult cannot represent all adults, and each must learn how to represent themselves. Teach them.
    Be the improve you wish to see. Speak to adults with respect, and avoid interrupting other youth or adults.
  13. Watch The Improve Happen. Hold a movie night and discussion for students and adults either at your school or in your community.
  14. Teach A Teacher. Do you know things about technology, the community, or other topics you think that teachers, parents, community members, or other adults can learn? Hold a student-led professional development session and invite adults from throughout your school to attend. Create a tight program, identify real learning goals, and facilitate good learning for everyone involved.
  15. Start A Resource Library. Gather materials from across the Internet that will help you develop a successful campaign to improve your school, and inspire you to do more. Share those links with your friends, parents, teachers, and others. Include books, websites, and organizations working on school improvement, student organizing and activism, and youth power.
  16. Teach Other Students About Education. Hold workshops and teach-ins for your friends to learn how schools need to improve and what they can do to make a difference. Build on what they already know.
  17. Teach About School Improve. Work with a teacher to co-design a lesson plan for students, parents, and the community about education reform and student involvement.
  18. Get Listed. Create a listing of all opportunities for involvement in your school and community.
  19. Conduct A Teach-In On School Reform For Students and Adults. Teaching students, parents, and community members what school reform is and how it happens is an important way to get more voices at the table.
  20. Write A Curriculum. Do you know a better way to teach something? Propose to a teacher to write and test a lesson plan or even a week-long curriculum and ask if you can test it in their class.

Everyone can work together to transform schools, and this list shows a great way to start!

 

You can find more ways and learn details from our Guide to Student Voice, which you can order here.