A few months ago Max Cooke and I had a chance to discuss student voice in the education sector. It is an idea that’s swept across the country, but maybe without us fully noticing its potential as a “game changer” in our school systems. We shared our thoughts in the latest edition of Education Canada and I was excited to see Carmen Meyett’s comments about our article and the work the student council at Quinte Secondary School is doing to become leaders in listening to and responding to what is important to their peers.
In her comments Carmen asks an important question: How are you making sure the student voice is heard? I’d like to take Carmen’s question a few steps further: What are you going to do with students’ ideas and opinions once you’ve heard them? Are we sure we’re not missing a critical part of the puzzle of change if we consult with students and leave all of the decision-making to educators?
CEA recently had a chance to bring these questions to students and educators at the York Region District School Board’s annual Quest for Student Achievement Conference. In our presentation – Students: Agents of Change – we talked about the differences between student voice and student involvement and with help from nine students at Sir Robert Borden Junior High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia we got to the important question: What difference does it make when students and teachers both have meaningful roles in decision making?
This short video – created from an hour-long focus group with the school’s student leadership team – illustrates how thoughtful leadership from staff and students at a school can have an impact on school culture and learning environments. This is a video that needs little introduction because the students say it all and as you’ll see at the end leave us to think about our role in creating meaningful opportunities not just for voice, but involvement and leadership.