Roundtables & Student Voice

As a Teacher Facilitator at the Ontario Educational Leadership Center, perhaps one the most enjoyable aspects of my time at the center is seeing students shine.  Students here never cease to amaze me and I only wish more students could attend this amazing leadership centre.

This evening, a group of 143 grade 6 students discussed topics of importance to them, decided by them.  Topics included:Roundtable

  • Gaming
  • Leadership in the Arts
  • Leadership in Sports
  • Bullying
  • Equality in school

The decision of the above mentioned topics stem from providing students a space to freely write down ideas that they wished to discuss.

When it came to finally discuss the finalized subjects, students were given a space to lead the conversations with no adult interruption unless a safety issue was at hand.

Though I did not participate in the discussions tonight, every single student that I talked to after the event said it was quite possibly the highlight of their day.  When asked why, one student said “I never really get the chance to share my ideas but today I did”.  This is why I teach and this is yet another reason why giving students an entry point through which to use their voice is, yet again, important.

The idea of a roundtable is simple.  Give students a few days to write down ideas on chart paper.  Let the ideas build up.  Once the suggestion time is done, provide them time to prioritize the subjects they wish to discuss.  Set time aside in your schedule to simply be a fly in your classroom and let a few students lead the discussion.  It will be worth your time, and more importantly, worth your time.

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