Last night my grad school colleague and friend Brandon Wiley shared with me 17 minutes of thought-provoking lecture – from a student. I was struck by this inspiring Ted Talk from 17 year-old Nikhil Goyal. He is a current senior at Syosset High School in New York, and has chosen to make his valuable student voice heard on his own school experience. The video is embedded below.
From his student lens, he disagrees with those who say our education system is broken, but instead, Goyal believes that “the system” is doing exactly what it was designed to do many years ago. He calls for educators and policymakers to put the students’ lens at the heart of envisioning a better model for education.
His insights have me thinking about how to provide for more student input during the upcoming school year at at local level. Five thoughts come to mind to when thinking about the current state of student voice in our school, and others I’ve come to know.
- Do we really solicit feedback from our students? If so, in what ways have we shaped our school to respond to their needs? If not, why not?
- What would make it easier for students to maximize learning their learning? What would the students tell us they really need? What would they say isn’t of much value to them?
- What meaningful student leadership opportunities do we provide at our school? How are those students selected and are they the same kids each year? What trends are present themselves?
- What data collection methods could we employ (qualitative and quantitative) to get to the root of the current state? How will be ensure students across all subgroups will be included?
- If we spoke with each parent at the school, what words would capture how their son or daughter describes their school experience? How has it changed or stayed the same as the child has moved through their school years? What patterns would we see?
Collecting the data on student voice will take a significant effort, but is the easy part here. What we do with that data is what will be the key in making our schools student-centered and places where kids want to get up in the morning to become inspired, learn about themselves and others, inquire , curate, produce and collaborate at school each day.
Nikhil has a book coming out in September entitled One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School. I’m excited to read it and further develop my understanding and perspective on and begin to solicit what MY students feel about OUR practices.
One of my goals in the upcoming school year is to provide for more meaningful opportunities for student voice, and allow it to become a keystone of our school’s efforts in meeting the needs of our students and families. To break the ice, I’m considering using the video above as a conversation starter for one of our first staff meetings of the school year.
In your comments below, please share any methods that have been successful at your school to encourage more student voice across all learners.