Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Power of Student Voice: #BeThePower

Written by Linda Ashida

"If you want to have a successful anti-bullying campaign at your school, don't have an assembly and don't invite a guest speaker! Don't create a form for parents to sign.  If you want to teach students not to bully, get the students involved.  Promote student agency.  Have the students own it!"

This message (paraphrased) from Ken Shelton's keynote address at the 2015 SchoologyNext Conference in July 2015, really stuck with me and reminded me about the incredible power of student voice, especially after watching these two videos he shared:

 A student-created anti-bullying video.

Michael shares his story about what it is like to have Autism

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch both videos before you read on.

Too often schools try to solve problems by getting a group of adults together to decide the best solution, when the best answers often come from the students themselves.

District 214 remembered the power of student voice to respond to students' negative use of social media last winter.  Students took to Twitter to complain about a district decision not to cancel classes on a very cold day. Many student tweets were mean-spirited and reflected negatively on their digital image.  Instead of responding with adult-imposed consequences and admonitions about digital citizenship, the district invited the students to come together to create a campaign to encourage positive and responsible use of social media.  Thus, the District 214 #BeThePower Campaign was born. Students from Wheeling and Prospect high schools began with a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #BeThePower and student created videos, and they challenged Elk Grove High School students to follow their lead. Students in the Leadership Through Service class responded with this video: "Joseph D. Bush's Mean Boyzzz"

 To be even more inspired about the power of student voice, check out the Student Voice Website.

How have you seen the positive impact of student voice in your classroom or school?  We'd love to hear from you! 

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