Students, teachers, and administrators are working together to create student-centric solutions to improve their schools and communities. Through workshops, roundtables, and storytelling sessions, Student Voice aims to help school communities identify persistent issues and inspire action through the formation of a Student Voice Chapter to continue work towards solutions.
A collection of inspiring students we’ve met along the tour
"Even if you get to go to board meetings, if nothing happens and your ideas are disregarded, it’ll feel pointless to go to meetings. So, I think that, in a perfect world, we would actually implement student ideas that are beneficial to the school. I understand that not everyone’s ideas can be implemented successfully, but I think effort to actually understand and implement the ideas that are beneficial to the school would be a good thing."
"I think there’s this gap between the faculty and the study body, which, of course would happen anywhere, but the fact that the faculty seems so untouchable I think there needs to be more personal connections. We shouldn't be afraid to address something."
"I would add giving students more of an opportunity to go to meetings and talk about the things they are seeing, rather than just having the board decide what the school needs. We’re the ones who are going to the school and going to classes 7 hours a day. We’re the ones who are the key stakeholders, so I want us to have more of an opportunity go to to meetings and discuss what goes on in school and how we can change it.
"Schools want to provide field trip opportunities, counselors, nurses and librarians. I would like to see funding so we can have those things."
"I hope teachers get better salaries and smaller class sizes. Some of these teachers are getting paid $20k, and I don't know how they even live here. My government class had 41 people."
"A lot of studies have shown that this time period is the time to work out who you are and how you express yourself. I don’t think the dress code should limit that expression and how people show who they are. Clothes are pretty cookie cutter here. So it’s hard because expression is limited by the dress code so you have to go out of your way to find other ways to express yourself."
Understanding the state of schools from coast to coast
Chicago Public Schools takes an innovative approach to implementing student voice.
Students of color don’t have people who understand them in their schools – it’s time for that to change.
Settling with the current state of primary education isn’t doing our current generation of students any favors.
Big Picture Learning innovates the typical school structure to expose students to real-world career development and nontraditional learning.
After the Student Voice Tour visited New Milford High School, students brainstormed an action plan to address bullying and culture issues.
Students at High Tech High want to preserve their unique culture and student-focused methods.
Students feel a growing disconnect with administrators, and as a result feel like the CHAMPS culture is fading.
In roundtables, students at Douglas High School discussed a myriad of issues, including school spirit, student apathy, the transition to high school, and the need for project based learning in their classes. Conversations about mental health were especially powerful, as students addressed the bevy of problems afflicting mental health services in their community, from a lack of resources or teacher training to stigmatization. For the first time, students found an understanding community to act as a support system.
Recently, Waterloo, Iowa topped a USA Today list as the metro area with the largest social and economic disparities along racial lines in the United States. At a Student Voice-hosted event, a diverse group of students from local youth-serving organizations gathered to discuss the range of ways they had experienced inequalities in their educations. Students built their change-making skills and broadened their perspectives on civil rights and inclusion within their community.
In what was many students’ first exploration of the shortcomings in their educations, students shared their experiences with their flawed sexual education curriculum, the apathy amongst the student population, the poor treatment of students in special education programs and bullying in a roundtable discussion.
Student Voice’s tour will continue through August, September, and early October of 2019. We can be flexible depending on your school schedule and structure, but as all of our team members are students, Thursdays and Fridays are best for visits to take place.
One of our team members! You can read about the Student Voice team here.
There are three main activities that we offer on a school visit: a workshop, a roundtable, and a storytelling session. In a roundtable, a Student Voice team member facilitates a conversation in which students discuss the state of their school. Currently in schools, students are asked to think critically about everything but school itself! A roundtable creates a structured space for students to think about what school is like and what school can be. In a workshop, students engage in an activity in which they conceptualize what their ideal school looks like. Then, students collaborate to identify issues in their school they'd like to address and develop an actionable plan to work with adults to seize opportunities for improvement. During a storytelling session, students engage in activities that exhibit the power of storytelling as an entry point to authentic and productive conversations and reveal the potential of storytelling to be used as a means to create empathy and change.
We hope that a visit from Student Voice empowers students to become changemakers, reveals the importance of their voices in their school and community, and mobilizes them to channel their passion into the formation of a Student Voice Chapter. The chapters program provides students with resources, curriculum, professional development opportunities, and support in creating a Student Voice club in their school to elevate student perspectives in policy decisions. Additionally, we hope that all students join Youth United for Action (YU4A), an online community for youth activists and changemakers.
Within the next day, you’ll receive an email from Megan Simmons, our Director of Strategy, so that you can schedule a phone call to talk about your school and plan a visit.