The Power of Student Voice

Little Micheal was definitely a handful.  A very bright 3rd grader struggled mightily in his class.  He often had loud outbursts disrupting the entire class.  He didn’t mind telling you how he felt about what was going on how it should be going.  He was full of questions and demanded answers, all 3’4 inches of him.

His classmates thought he was comical and very cool.  Needless to say, his behavior was well received by his teacher.  Micheal’s second home had become the main office and a space for him to do his work had been equipped with pencils, crayons and paper.

On one of those days, Micheal was spending time in the office, I quietly walked to where he was working to see how he was doing on his math sheet.  He actually was doing all correctly.  So what was actually going on with him?

So I asked.  “Can you help me understand why you are having a hard time in class?”  Still working on his sheet, he simply said, “She doesn’t even listen to me?”  I asked him to tell me more.  He put his pencil down and looked at me.  “You see, principal, how you are talking to me and asking questions without hollering at me.  She don’t do that.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think many teachers to that.”  And he went back to working.

What could I say.  This 3rd grader left me speechless.  The power of student voice.

Schools are in the business of developing students, socially and academically.  But have we ever really asked students how they feel?  And when we do get the information, what do we do with that information?

We say that we want to create schools for our students to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.  But who best to tell us what they need but the students?  We have many opportunities to tap into the student voice via peer groups, student surveys and even activities such as community building in classes.

By creating opportunities for students to have a voice and utilizing the information we get from the students, students will begin to feel a part of the school.  They will begin to feel and believe that their voice does matter.

The student voice informs how we, as the adults, could transform the culture to support their needs.  All we have to do is listen to the students.  They definitely are willing to talk!