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Empower Students to Join the Conversation: This Teacher Did

Center for Teaching Quality

In a recent blog post, high school teacher and CTQ blogger Paul Barnwell poses this question: Should student insight be considered more as we redesign schools, classrooms, curriculums, and policy? He then asks his students to share their ideas in a podcast format. (Click on link below to listen.)

The current education reform is being predominantly led by politicians and business leaders. Just as more current teachers should have a voice in how to improve education, students should also be empowered to provide input for their own education. What can you do? Ask a student you know to voice his/her thoughts on how school should change. Then, join the vibrant conversation by clicking below, and share student feedback. Empower students to join the conversation.

Photo Credit: Heather B. via Flickr

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  • Jennifer Hudson

    I've been in the special education world for over 13 years. However, I am now subbing and spend more time with Jr. High and High School Students. When I posed the question to a group of 8th graders during a study hall time, they of course had much to say. At first it was follow the leader and a few said pick up trash etc. but once they began thinking about the school day they had more insight. Most of the students agreed that the study hall time mid-day was a waste of time and only about 3 % of students actually did homework or study during this time. Maybe it was my imagination but I do think those students walked out of that room feeling as if their opinions really mattered. thanks for the great question JENN

    • Center for Teaching Quality

      Jenn,
      Sorry for the late reply! We've been having some technical issues with our account here, but they are now (thankfully) solved.

      Your practical example of how we can engage students to be the architects of their own solutions is powerful! Students can often guide the discussion in ways adults or authorities will not predict. Yet how much more authentic will the end decision be when student input is not simply tokenism, but influential? Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I can't speak as a teacher- but I think as a student, it's sometimes hard to feel comfortable enough to offer criticism or feedback. So how do you make the environment feel more comfortable and open? Building trust obviously works- but also showing that you respect any opinion that comes your way.

    • Center for Teaching Quality

      Alessandra, You bring up a very important point. Teachers need to work to establish trust and rapport in their classroom before they can expect students to offer opinions on subjects that could potentially feel vulnerable to both the teacher and student. Student need to understand how to use "I language" rather than offensive or attacking language. Similarly, they need to be taught how to understand another's perspective in order to have a thoughtful dialogue and consider other's viewpoints.

      Teachers can model this by respecting various viewpoints in his/her class and by showing students that they care about them as people first, students second.

      One of the teachers in our community actually asked her students about what it means to have a good rapport. Their answers are provided in her blog column linked below.

      http://www.teachingquality.org/content/advice-column-new-or-all-teachers-fifth-grade-students