“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates
I read the above quote and it really struck a nerve. I know student voice is extremely important in schools, and many have made strides to make this more of a reality. Where I struggle is when we bring students together, are we bringing the voices of students that are doing well, or are we bringing the struggling student who maybe hates the entire experience?
Many times, these student voice “events” (student voice should be much more than an event) often are for the students who have completed the work and that we know will catch up on any missed “work ” in school. Are we sending kids with divergent ideas or the ones who are sometimes the most compliant? Obviously, it should not be one or the other, but when we bring students together to listen to their voice, we have to ensure that the voices have diversity in many aspects.
Another idea that I heard from Andrea Gillespie from Ontario (#TLDSBLearns) was the notion of “Student Exit Surveys”. She had shared with me via Twitter that when students dropout, they are given an exit survey to gather information, and what she had said to me was the number one reason students left school was that they felt they had no connection with an adult in the building. Imagine being in place where no one seemed to care if you were there? I wouldn’t want to be there either. This process should be something we do for students that dropout and graduate. It should also be something that is done for students while they are in schools (many organizations do this) to improve the experience for students while they are in school.
Student voice is so crucial for the change process so many schools are going through; in fact, it is the most important aspect. If we aren’t changing it for them, why are we doing this work? Let’s just make sure we give all students multiple opportunities to share their thoughts while discussing and acting upon this feedback.
(Please share any ways that you tap into student voice in your school or organization in the comments. Links welcomed and appreciated!)