Student Voice in School Reform

Last night I read the first half of a book called Student Voice in School Reform by Dana L. Mitra and wanted to do a reflection in the form of some quotes from her book, which I’m finding illuminating and speaks nicely to our desires (and the challenges) of including student voice at the heart of our reform efforts.

From Student Voice in School Reform:

“student voice is the ways in which young people can work with teachers and administrators to cocreate the path of reform. This process can enable youth to meet their own developmental needs and can strengthen student ownership of the educational reform process.”

“…young people tend to broach subjects that adults are reluctant to discuss, such as equity issues that tend to get swept under the rug by administrators and other adults in the school who would rather avoid controversy.”

“Giving students a voice in such reform conversations reminds teachers and administrators that students possess unique knowledge and perspectives about schools that adults cannot fully replicate without this partnership.”

“If an individual has a sense of control over her environment, she will feel more intrinsically motivated to participate.”

“True engagement requires a ‘rupture of the ordinary’ (Fielding, 2004), which demands as much of teachers as it does of students.”

“One issue that youth-adult partnerships must watch vigilantly is whether they increase the voices of the disadvantaged or if they only raise the voice of privileged youth.”

“Any educational change is hard, but changing the roles of students is extremely hard because it pushes against strongly held institutional beliefs about the roles of young people in schools.”

“Rather than importing solutions developed by outside organizations that presume to know how to fix schools, this line of thoughts suggests that teachers and administrators in schools possess unique knowledge about their schools’ context.”

“…the intention is for the change process to become all encompassing so that critical decisions are driven by the newly developed vision.”

“If teachers could identify weaknesses in students, Rosalinda [a student] felt that students should be provided an opportunity to identify weaknesses in teachers as well.”

“The group members had to decide what they were going to be and what they were going to do. What does student voice look like in practice?”

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