She managed to weave in poetry with Judy Brown’s ‘Fire’, a story about setting fire to the Brownie Guide toadstool and the ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ Pink Floyd video so she had me engaged right through!;) We also tried ways to gather voice anonymously with feedback tools e.g. PollEverywhere, Wiffiti, ExciteM
We examined the way young people can be involved meaningfully in learning conversations rather than harvesting data.
Rachel’s opening story about setting fire to the Brownie toadstool in KeriKeri (!) highlighted the way some people rebel against a system where they don’t fit. She asked : How often do our students today feel they fit in, or not? Think about the culture we create and how we can engage teachers to think about students’ sense of place and identity in our schools.
She posed some great questions for us to consider:
- In terms of the acoustics of a school, whose voices are heard and whose are silenced? Teachers often fill the space out of fear of what students might say when we talk to them. Why do we enter the space first?
- What shape can student voice take? Is it used to create further change and generate further agency? How can we shift from instructional to pedagogical?
- How can we support the creation of professional communities that are relational? Create sustainable sense of agency?
Key points from the research
- We don’t rate student voice highly – youth is a stigma, needing to be moulded
- We over utilise student voice in the design of cafe menus and logos but not in curriculum development
- When students feel their voices are valued, they develop a strong sense of membership, agency, respect, self-worth, sense of self and place as a learner – and more likely to become engaged as a result
- They have unique perspectives which should be integrated into the learning
- We often use brainstorms etc at the start but students prefer one to one conversation so that their voices are heard. Check out Mitra’s pyramid for student voice re ways to build student relationships.
An ethic of care
When we talk to students…
- Be aware of power imbalance between teachers and students. Offer choice to share voices in ways that suit their culture and preferences.
- Students are aware if their voices won’t make a difference – how will it be used as evidence for change? How much are we using it to reinforce trends, compliance, and productivity?
- To do student voice using different structure takes time and care to bring about change, and to challenge existing discourses and structures.
Questions for reflection
- Reflect on own practice.
- How do we engage students and teachers in learning conversations, about learning?
- What opportunities can we create and share?
- To what extent do we create space for students to take the reins to move from gathering evidence to changing pedagogical practices? > ako, progressive autonomy, accountability to students, acknowledge diversity of voice, from voice to dialogue.
- ‘Why won’t they listen to us?’ - Grover > makes the point that collecting student voice in traditionally authoritarian schools remain supremely difficult
- Adam Fletcher soundout.org > involving students meaningfully and inclusively.
- Ladder of participation (Hart, 1992) > scaffold conversations so they become more meaningful
Examples from NZ studies
- Juliet Hayes & Amy Clode ~ Creative leadership for Māori student partnerships
- McNae ~ Constructing leadership learning with young women in a NZ secondary school
- McNae and Mackay ~ Appreciating Youth Leadership
[Image credits: CC Thomas Hawk]