Tuesday, 21 February 2017

7 ways to ensure meaningful student involvement leading to school improvement

Definition of meaningful student involvement:

It is the process of engaging students as partners in every facet of the education system for the purpose of strengthening their commitment to education, community and democracy.

Is it simply student voice?
That is, any expression by any student about any aspect of school life.
Is it student engagement?
That is, when a student feels excited and motivated to learn.
Is it student consultation?
That is, listening to student’s opinions about school.
Is it student participation?
That is, students committed to taking part in all aspects of learning
Or, is it a combination of all of the above?

No, it isn’t!
It is a deeper more committed active process that
leads to school improvement!

 So, what can meaningful student involvement look like?

1. Students as researchers!
Firstly, I have blogged about this before but I passionately believe training older students undertake learning walks to gather and analyse data about learning results in a meaningful research partnership leading to improved student outcomes.

2. Students as curriculum planners!
Again, I believe passionately that students should have the opportunity to plan units of inquiry, with teachers, to ensure prior knowledge and student interest is acknowledged and build into any rich inquiry tasks.

3. Students as advocates for change!
Empowering students to take meaningful action locally and globally is a necessary future focused practice. Offering students rich, complex, real world problems to solve and supporting them to take action will lead to meaningful commitment to service, as opposed to, low level giving through muffin stalls and mufti days to donate to causes.

4. Students as co-researchers with the teacher!
I believe all teacher inquiries should be informed by student voice and opinion. We consult widely to gather research and ideas in answer to our wonderings and inquiries but how often do we share our research with our students and seek their advice, ideas and opinions?

5. Students as culture builders!
In New Zealand we are great advocates of peer mediation and a variety of buddy systems in our schools designed to help students support each other and grow respectful, caring relationships. Tick this one off ü

6. Students as eco-warriors!
Again, in New Zealand, we have a strong philosophy and practice developing our students as respectful environmental citizens who are informed and have developed a consciousness and awareness of the world’s rapidly changing physical challenges and sustainable practice. 
Tick this one off ü

7. Students as teachers!
We know peer teaching has an effect size of .55 (Hattie, 2011). So why do we not utilise this valuable practice more?

I challenge all teachers to answer the following:
·      How often in a school day are your students teaching each other?

·      What opportunities do you provide for students to lead the learning, instead of yourself, throughout the day?

·      Have you consciously timed the teacher talk time/mat time in your class over a school day?

·      Do you start a lesson/activity with “We are going to investigate/learn about ……. Who would like to share their knowledge/skills about this topic/concept/strategy?

·      How often in a school day do you bring closure to a lesson by asking your students to reflect and share/question/explain their learning to other peers?

Together, the 7 ways to ensure meaning student involvement will result in some form of school improvement and definitely bring real teacher/student partnership in learning to life!

Rate your level of student involvement against the ladder of participation below:

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