In Room 17, students have a great deal of power over their learning. They need this power, and investigations into how students learn best have indicated that they actually crave it. This makes sense, after all the students are the greatest stakeholders in their education, it is their education! Student voice takes a few different forms in our room.
The first form of student voice introduced in Room 17 was the Class Meeting. Class Meetings provide an opportunity for students to have their ideas for how the learning environment can be improved to suit them better. This is also an important behaviour education opportunity where students provide feedback on how the actions of people within the group are affecting learning, celebrating the positives through acknowledgements and addressing behaviours which are getting in the way of learning as well. This feedback is framed through the prism of our agreed class values, which were developed by the students at the beginning of the year.
Feedback is also provided to me, the teacher, about how things can be tailored in the classroom to better suit the students. This feedback is incredibly valuable, and I am fortunate enough to receive it every Friday, helping me to tailor my teaching style and the setup of the learning environment specifically to suit students.
Some useful ideas already provided through the class meeting include; the opportunity for students to plan and run their own lesson for the class on a subject or topic that they are passionate about. Students have requested a debrief at the end of each learning block, similar to the one we have at the end of each day. A ‘career day’ (stay tuned) where parents are invited to come in and talk about their jobs and what is involved in getting to those positions, to provide students with an understanding of their pathways and what they will need to focus their energy on to get where they would like to. These are the highlights, and I am sure there are plenty more to come.
The next part of student voice in Room 17 is our class business. I have posted about plans for the class business and have provided some updates on the class Facebook page, so I will aim not to talk to much about it here. The key point is that the class business is run entirely by the students, with every decision made by them, this ties into the learning outcomes as well as the business decisions. Feedback from students indicates that this has been one of their highlights for the year.
But what else can we do to provide students more voice? The answer is simple, keep giving students more control. Each student has their own blog which they have ownership over; they decide what is worth publishing and what is not. In the early stages some posts were set for the students to write; to build up their skills and give them practice in this format, however this has become increasingly a student-dominated space, where the decisions about what is worth posting are made entirely by the students.
Continuing this theme, in term 4 we have designed two major projects to cover our remaining curriculum for the year. Students have a great deal of independent work time to explore these tasks, while workshops, mini lessons and conferencing with individuals about their projects run, allowing students to opt-in to things that they feel will benefit and support their learning. It makes for a lot of organisation on the teaching side, but allows for much richer interaction with my students, as they have more say over what I am working on with them and how we interact. So far this has proved highly engaging and I’m excited to see the impact on learning outcomes as the term progresses.
Thank you to those who made it to the end of the post, a lot of information but things that are happening that I believe are worth discussing. If you are interested in student ownership over their learning; Sarah has written a post on her blog called ‘Must Do Lesson’ which is worth a read, and Ellie has made a compelling argument titled ‘We Should Choose Our N.I.T Subjects’. Their blogs can be found at http://ellieroom17.edublogs.org and http://sarahroom172018.edublogs.org