How to Center Student Voice and Equity Amidst Learning Shifts

Need help meeting student needs as you adapt to remote learning and beyond? Here's a place to start.

By Hana Beach

How well are you meeting the needs of students as your school adapts to remote learning and makes long-term plans to rethink teaching and learning? Maybe, you don’t know. It can be hard to check in with students, understand their experiences, and use their insights to inform new systems and processes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Meaningfully involving students in designing their learning experiences motivates them and ensures you’re meeting the needs of the students you serve. (It’s a win-win.). 

Self-Assessment Tool for Students, Teachers, and Education Leaders

Schools succeed when they enable student voice, center equity, and prioritize  meaningful relationships to support learning. That’s why we created a discussion and self-assessment tool to help your school stay focused on these high-impact areas, even in the chaos and uncertainty of drastic learning shifts educators are faced with today. 

The XQ tool comes with a set of discussion questions that will help your team explore what your school is doing now, what you might try, and what additional resources you can mobilize to meet students’ needs better and more equitably. 

Refocusing Your Work Before Re-Opening 

When you begin this process, we hope you will ground your work in the XQ Design Principles— six characteristics of an effective, equitable, and student-centered high school. All six design principles are important, and we’ve included them in the tool, but we realize that working your way through all of them might be overwhelming.

We recommend starting with the following three:

  1. Caring, trusting relationships
  2. Meaningful, engaged learning
  3. Youth voice and choice

Educators affirm that getting these three right seems especially important for making sure students are able to stay connected, make progress in their learning, and exercise agency within their school community during the uncertain time of the pandemic. Focusing here will also set up school communities to address the lasting effects of COVID-19: the learning loss, the trauma, and the exacerbated inequities.

We hope this tool will help you refocus your work and inspire you to build consensus in your community, and that it will help you be candid, thoughtful, and imaginative as you build new systems and routines that not only challenge what school can be but what it should be. 

Be sure to let us know if these tools are helpful and what tools you want to see next by tagging @XQAmerica and using #ReThinkHighSchool across social!  

If you are interested in learning more about high school redesign check out our High School Redesign topic on Rethink Together.