What is Student Voice

Why not establish an intimate connection between knowledge considered basic to any school curriculum and knowledge that is the fruit of the lived experience of these students as individuals?     Paulo Freire, “Pedagogy of Freedom” (1998)

A slow shift in education is occurring wherein teachers are listening to their students at a deeper level in order to support student growth.  At the heart of student voice lies the idea that “when we engage students in their own learning” they will ultimately take greater ownership of their learning (Capacity Building Series, 2013, p. 3).   Palmer (2013), provides a simple definition for student voice.  He describes student voice as “the term [that] describes how students give their input to what happens within the school and classroom”.  Think of “what would happen if we treated the student as someone whose opinion mattered in the introductions and implementation of reform in schools?” (Fox, K. p. 3).

Just imagine how delighted students would be if they came to school knowing how their voices mattered and truly had a roll in their learning process?  Perhaps students would love learning like they did in junior kindergarten, after all, “students know what they want” (Capacity Building Series, 2011, p. 3).  So why are teachers not listening to the needs of students more often?  Connecting what students need through their voices seems simple enough.

Alas, student voice is about engaging students in their learning and providing them a platform where their voices are heard and ideas applied in some capacity.  Student voice is also about recognizing student strengths, embracing the uniqueness each student brings to the table, celebrating diversity, and most importantly, knowing that each student can succeed in their own right with just a little bit of support.

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