Students Can Make a Difference.

Shelby Gonzalez Parker, a Denver area student, was recently interviewed on NPR’s Colorado Matters about her thoughts on effective teaching and education.  She also discussed the importance of involving student voice in making decisions about what happens in schools.  As Shelby points out, students know what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom.

Collaborating with students on the content of curriculum can empower students and encourage them to take a larger role in their education.   When teachers and students team up, it promotes student engagement, exploration, and reflection; key components of maximizing student learning. When teachers ask for input from students based on personal experiences as part of classroom lessons, the classroom environment becomes more equitable and students feel more ownership over their education.

Students can also be empowered when they are given opportunities to speak up outside the classroom and have an impact at the systems level.  One way educators can encourage this type of involvement is to be cognizant of how they support their students and develop curriculum to get them involved in what is happening in their school and district.  The John W. Gardner Center at Stanford University has developed a curriculum on teaching students how to be leaders and how administrators can foster student voice.  This resource provides guidance on how to help youth can learn about their communities, determine their strengths, and develop a plan for change.

As equitable educators, it is important to include students in all aspects of the school decision-making when possible. has several resources that are worth taking a look at:

50 ways adults can support student voice.
What is student voice?
Acknowledge your students voice.
Why and How to Let Students Decide.

After reviewing the links provided, consider the following:

  1. Does your school take student perspective into consideration when making policy? Why or why not? What can you do to incorporate students in this process?
  2. Why is student voice so important to success of your classroom and school?
  3. What can you to do integrate student ideas into your curriculum?

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Culturally Responsive Urban Education
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