Historically, our society has leaned toward telling adolescents what they need and every last detail of how to get it. The result? High levels of disengagement; low levels of effort.
If they are to exert real effort in their learning and emerge prepared for adult life, young people need to play an active role in co-creating their learning journeys.
To help young people feel genuinely involved in their own learning, as well as in ongoing decisions about their school, we need to consider some difficult questions. These questions have particular resonance as we consider what we know about student engagement and lack of engagement during COVID-related school closures:
*Tip: Look back at Hart’s Ladder of Youth Participation for insights on how to engage students authentically in working through questions like these.
Above all, we should avoid the pitfall of making assumptions about what students might be feeling. According to a national survey by the Quaglia Institute for Student Voice and Aspirations, “an alarming gap exists between teacher and student beliefs around decision making in the classroom.” While 97 percent of teachers said they encourage students to make decisions, only 60 percent of students believed so. More than eight in ten teachers said they actively seek student opinions and ideas, but fewer than half of students said teachers are willing to learn from them.
It can be challenging to balance student “voice and choice” with ensuring that all graduates master the fundamental knowledge, skills, and competencies they need.
Step 1 – Research
Explore strategies and practices you can put in place to elevate student voice, while also ensuring that students get the guidance they need to graduate fully prepared. Consider how you can intentionally build students’ capacity to guide their own learning.
Step 2 – Reflect
Share your findings with your team and discuss these questions: