A most important component of education is student voice. If students are curious and want to know more about a subject, there is the greatest probability that they will learn and be engaged in the process. When the power is switched into the students’ hands, they are owning their learning. They are empowered to learn even more. Learning becomes relevant and it helps students want to do it and not just because it is expected of them.
This co-constructing knowledge with students is very different from a traditional classroom where the teacher is the one who provides the choices in curriculum, and then the teacher is directing the learning. Student voice and choice means students may choose how they learn and at times what they learn. In these environments students can explore, research, and then share their learning.The teacher may determine topics, roles and responsibilities in a classroom with student voice.
A recent example of student voice helping to shape our elementary school was Yom Tzahal Day. Students were given the opportunity to imagine what a holiday would be like if they devised it. It was an amazing day that incorporated skills and acquisition of knowledge about the IDF. There was some teacher facilitation but most of the day was designed by the students.
Students have good ideas, sometimes even great ideas. They are more than capable on providing feedback about what works in a classroom and how they can facilitate learning. With digital tools like Google Classroom, teachers can survey students on a regular basis about their learning experiences and growth needs.
Do we challenge our students in ways that are relevant to and for them? Do we trust our students to be partners in the planning and execution of their lessons and learning? It is all about mindset and trust.
I believe that when students are given a voice and choice in their school experience, it will enhance the learning and quite possibly change the world.
Mrs. Debbie Hamburg
Elementary School Principal