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.
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 2016 SoundOut Summer Camp is happening August 1-12 at Cleveland High School in Seattle, Washington. Over the last five years, SoundOut has partnered with Seattle Public Schools to teach more than 100 students how to change the world! This year, we’re teaching students how to TAKE CONTROL of their education and how to MAKE SCHOOLS BETTER.
The SoundOut Summer Camp is for Cleveland students who want to improve their learning and their school. Everyday includes workshops, activities, games, videos and reading.
By participating (full attendance) in this program, students will receive 0.5 elective credit, and will be able to earn up to 20 service learning hours for participating in continuing activities throughout the school year.
What are the broadest possible roles for engaging students as partners throughout the K-12 education system?
The most important thing when engaging students in any role in school is to acknowledge their first duty: Learning. Their learning is paramount to being meaningfully involved throughout schools. Learning through meaningful student involvement should include: stated learning goals, meaningful action, and sustained, deep reflection.
Following are a several roles students can have that can transform schools and education forever.
Roles for Students throughout the Education System
Students as Facilitators. Knowledge comes from study, experience, and reflection. Engaging students as learning guides and facilitators helps reinforce their commitment to learning and the subject they are teaching; it can also engage both young and older learners in exciting ways.
Students as Researchers. Identifying issues, surveying interests, analyzing findings, and developing projects in response are all powerful avenues for Student Voice.
Students as Planners. Planning includes program design, event planning, curriculum development, and hiring staff. Students planning activities can lend validity, creativity, and applicability to abstract concepts and broad outcomes.
Students as Organizers. Community organizing happens when leaders bring together everyone in a community in a role that fosters social change. Students community organizers focus on issues that affect themselves and their communities; they rally their peers, families, and community members for action.
Students as Advocates. When students stand for their beliefs and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent their families and communities with pride, courage, and ability.
Students as Evaluators. Assessing and evaluating the effects of programs, classes, activities, and projects can promote Student Voice in powerful ways. Students can learn that their opinions are important, and their experiences are valid indicators of success.
Students as Experts. Envisioning roles for students to teach students is relatively easy; seeing new roles for students to teach adults is more challenging. Students specialists bring expert knowledge about particular subjects to programs and organizations, enriching everyone’s ability to be more effective.
Students as Advisors. When students advise adults they provide genuine knowledge, wisdom, and ideas to each other, adults, schools, and education agencies, and other locations and activities that affect them and their world at large.
Students as Designers. Students participate in creating intentional, strategic plans for an array of activities, including curriculum, building construction, students and community programs, and more.
Students as Teachers. Facilitating learning for themselves, other students and educators, other adults in schools, or adults throughout our schools can be teachers of small and large groups in all kinds of topics. [Examples]
Students as Grant-makers. Students can identify funding, distribute grants, evaluate effectiveness, and conduct other parts of the process involved in grant-making.
Students as Lobbyists. Influencing policy-makers, legislators, politicians, and the people who work for them are among the activities for students as lobbyists.
Students as Trainers. When they train adults, students, children, and others, youth can share their wisdom, ideas, knowledge, attitudes, actions, and processes in order to guide programs, nurture organization and community cultures, and change the world.
Students as Politicians. Running for political office at the community, city, county, or state levels, students can be politicians in a variety of positions. In some places, they can run for school boards or as education trustees too.
Students as Recruiters. Students building excitement, sharing motivation, or otherwise helping their peers and other people to get involved, create change, or make all sorts of things happen throughout schools and the entire education system.
Students as Social entrepreneurs. When students recognize a social problem, they can use entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make schools and their communities change.
Students as Paid staff. When schools hire students, they can be staff members in schools and throughout the education system. They can fulfill many roles on this list in paid positions.
Students as Mentors. Mentoring is a non-hierarchical relationship between students and adults, adults and students, or among students themselves, that helps facilitate learning and guidance for each participant.
Students as Decision-Makers. Making rules in classrooms is not the only way to engage students in decision-making. Participating in formal and informal decision-making, students can be school board members, education committee members, and in many different roles throughout schools.
Students as Activity Leaders. As activity leaders in schools and education agencies, students can facilitate, teach, guide, direct, and otherwise lead youth, adults, and children in a variety of ways.
Students as Policy-Makers. When they research, plan, write, and evaluate education rules, regulations, laws, and other policies, students as policy-makers can enrich, substantiate, enliven, and impact the outcomes of policies and schools in many ways.
These are merely some of the roles. What others can YOU think of? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Student courts are one approach to engaging students as partners in school discipline. Student courts can happen in elementary, middle, and high school, and when they operate outside schools, they are youth courts. Most often, they provide conflict resolution and interpretation of student bylaws and constitutions. When infused with classroom learning goals and provided equitable opportunities for decision-making as adults, student courts can reflect Meaningful Student Involvement at the highest levels.
The first step to creating a student court is to understand that these bodies are basically juries that are made of students alone. Whether happening on the classroom, building, district or state level, student courts should consider these five issues:
Composition – Who will be on the court? How many students will be allowed? How will they be selected? How will they be trained? How long can they be members of the court?
Jurisdiction – What types of offenses will the court rule on? How do student confidentiality laws and overall student safety affect the court?
Preparation – How will students on the court will be trained to be effective and impartial jurors? How will adults learn about student courts?
Operation – When, where and how will student court hearings be conducted? Who will evaluate student success? How will students be acknowledged for participating?
Partnerships – How will student/adult partnerships be evident throughout the proceedings? Who will decide which cases the court hears? Who holds ultimate veto power over the court?
As more schools and districts realize the educational potential of student courts for both the students serving on them and those that go before them, they are becoming a popular way to engage students in school decision-making. Like other forms of student government, student court promotes student voice by engaging students as responsible, equitable partners in affecting and shaping schools.
What It Looks Like
Students in Marin County, California, have been partners in youth courts for more than a decade. Committed to eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, these students learn to use restorative justice practices that keep students in schools and out of the juvenile justice system. With a non-adversarial, student-to-student philosophy at its core, Marin County youth courts have diverted more than 900 students from the juvenile justice system. Their completion rate is 95%, with only 8% recidivism, startling naysayers who insist youth courts are “soft on crime”.