- Students are the foundation of your school, but often, their voices are underrepresented.
- Supporting student voice leads to more student engagement, and ultimately to better school performance.
- Having the right communications technology in place helps support student voice.
Students are the foundation of the school, and yet often their voices are underrepresented in shaping their educational environments. When your school honors the student voice, you increase student engagement.
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Why student voice is important
It’s unfortunate that by the time students are in high school, only a third of those students report feeling engaged with their education. Education should provide students with meaningful learning experiences in a community of engaged learners.
One key aspect of that engagement is to respect the student voice. Students who feel like their voices are heard are more likely to feel academically engaged and respected in the school community. Their voices can help shape a better education for future generations of students as they provide feedback about school and curriculum design and assessment as well.
10 student voice strategies
How can your school ensure that the student voice is heard and student engagement rises in your school? Here are 10 simple steps to take:
1. Develop a classroom vision of success
Work with your students to consider how to develop learning opportunities and assess student success. What does a successful classroom look like? What does success look like for each student? Give students the opportunity to plan for and evaluate their own learning.
2. Work with students to create goals
When students have the opportunity to set their own goals, they are better able to achieve them, since these goals are meaningful to them. Increase your students’ investment in their own learning by giving them structures to help them set and shape their goals and reflect on their personal achievements.
3. Provide choice in student work
When students are working in the classroom, do they have the opportunity to choose what they are working on? Providing students with multiple options for an assignment helps them choose the content that is relevant, meaningful, and exciting to them. They are a part of their own learning process, rather than having to move through assignments that are not engaging.
4. Teach students how to choose
In addition to providing choice in student work, students need to develop the ability to self-reflect and assess their different learning opportunities. Give students practice in problem-solving and decision-making and help them reflect on and make decisions about what they need.
5. Prioritize critical thinking
Students are at school to learn how to learn. There is a vast amount of information in the world, and developing critical thinking skills helps students assess that information. Set up a classroom environment in which students are encouraged to ask questions, think critically, and solve problems, even if it means that sometimes students don’t get the correct answer.
6. Provide diverse access points for student work
Different students enjoy accessing learning materials in different ways. Families may also want to be involved in student assignments or in providing feedback. By providing in-class, paper-based, and digital communications venues, you can address the communications needs of many different students. For instance, some lessons may also be on videos that are accessible at home for students who miss class or who would like to reflect further on their assignments.
7. Give students multiple ways to speak
Allowing students to use their voice to talk about assignments, present to the class, or present to the wider school community builds their presentation skills and helps them feel more involved in their school community. While some presentations might take place at the front of the classroom, others could take place in an online format or be written. By giving students many different ways to use their voices in the classroom, you ensure that communication is accessible to all.
8. Ensure students can shape the school community
Your students are at school for many hours each week, and the school community is one of the places where they spend the most time. Ensure that your students are able to fully participate in the school community by giving them real-world assignments. For instance, students could shape student government or help provide feedback on a proposed renovation. Connect learning to the students’ real-life concerns.
9. Connect with students’ home lives
School does not occur in a vacuum. When your students head home, they go to families, friends, and their community. One way to honor student voice is to ask for both student engagement and family engagement in the school. Families can provide feedback through calls, texts, paper forms, and online platforms. Invite families to contribute to the shape of the classroom and to be active participants in school life.
10. Ask for and use student feedback
Students are future leaders, voters, and community caretakers. They can begin this role when they are young. By using tools such as surveys and discussion groups in your classroom and school, you provide multiple ways for students to provide feedback about the school. This could be everything from changing the cafeteria menu to helping to shape the different project options for a class. Using an online communications system can help you set up polls and collect information in a timely manner.
A digital communications system helps students achieve classroom goals
When you want to have a classroom that respects student voice and increases student engagement, implementing an all-in-one digital communications system can help. It gives you a complement of new tools that are integrated and easy for you, your students, and your families to access. You can host online lessons, add materials, and hold polls for your students to gather information about their thoughts. At RingCentral, our communications system for education offers:
- Video lessons
- Chat, text, and phone capabilities
- The capacity to host polls and provide results
- Online file-sharing
- Accessibility features so that everyone can access these communications systems
At RingCentral, we specialize in developing an integrated communications system for work and school environments. By implementing a digital communications system at your school, you’ll be able to provide online learning and feedback opportunities for students.
Curious to see how RingCentral can transform your school’s communications? See how it works today.
Originally published Jul 05, 2022