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Student voices matter

Our students should have a voice.

It is hard to argue that point. Although we try at times.

“Students don't know enough,” we say.

“Students don't understand why this is important,” we lament.

“Students need us to help them understand,” we suggest as we plan things for them.

Two sessions I attended on the first day of the #NCE2022 conference in Nashville suggest that instead of finding reasons why students can't be heard, we should instead be looking for reasons that they should be heard.

The session moderated by Tom Vander Ark with Michael Conner and M. Ann Levett on “Learners as Co-Authors of Their Education Journey,” and the session by PJ Caposey, Michael Lubelfeld, and Nick Polyak on “Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable” both spoke about hearing and listening to students.

What I found most valuable were the questions that these sessions made me think.

Do our students know our school/district vision?

Do they see themselves in our school/district vision?

We have clear expectations of what students need to learn but do we really know how to prepare them for the future?

When do students develop and understand that they have a view of the world and that they should be willing and able to act on it?

Can we really argue that we value student voice, if we never see or hear our students in public settings that make decisions on their future?

These sessions reinforced for me the importance of finding ways to listen, hear, and act on the voices of the students in my district.

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