Are there certain steps every adult could take
to engage every student in every school everyday?
SoundOut says "Yes". Since we began studying student voice
programs around the world and operating our own activities across the United
States, SoundOut staff have identified a pattern of activities that occurs in
every single activity where both students and adults agree there was meaning.
Our Cycle of Meaningful Student Involvement identifies that pattern,
giving adults a practical guide to their daily relationships with students.
Meaningful student involvement is not a magical formula or mysterious bargain
students – but, it doesn’t just simply happen, either. By following the Cycle of
Student Involvement, student participation is transformed from passive,
activities into a process promoting student achievement and school improvement.
Cycle of Meaningful Student Involvement is a continuous five-step process. It
to assess current activities, or to plan future programs. The following
provide more information about each step.
Student Voice - Meaningful
student involvement inherently requires simply being listened to.
Providing space a platform for Student Voice to be heard can be
challenging. Listening to Student Voice can happen in personal
conversations, classroom discussions, agenda items in meetings, or
through written reports and studies.
When students speak, its not enough to
nod your head. Validating students does not mean automatically
agreeing with students, either. It is important to offer students
sincere comments, criticism, or feedback. Disagreeing with students
allows young people to know that you actually heard what was said,
that you thought about it, and that you have your own knowledge or
opinion which you think is important to share with them. Students must
know that education isn't about autonomous authority, and that
a chorus of voices inform learning and leading schools.
Student Involvement - Meaningful
student involvement requires ability,
which comes in the form of experience and knowledge. Providing
students with authority means going beyond traditional roles for
students in classrooms by actively providing the training and
positions they need in order to affect change. It is essential that
adults provide students with the opportunities they need to be authors
of their own narratives.
Transitioning from passive participants
to active learners and leaders throughout education requires students
taking action to create change. Mobilizing students in positions of
new authority allows them to affect cultural and systemic educational
transformation, and encourages educators to acknowledge students as
Meaningful Student Involvement -
Meaningful student involvement cannot
happen in a vacuum.
Educators and students should take responsibility for learning through
Student Voice by engaging students in conscious critical reflection by
examining what was successful and what failed. Students and adults can
also work together to identify how to sustain and expand the Cycle of
Meaningful Student Involvement by effectively returning to the first step above.
Individually, these steps may currently happen in schools. When they do happen,
it is rare that they are connected with school improvement, and even less
likely, connected with one another. The connection of all the steps in a cycle
is what makes partnerships between students and adults meaningful, effective,
Cycle of Meaningful Student Involvement was first published in the
Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change.
For more information or assistance,