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Can Anyone Hear Me? Utilizing Student Voice in Schools

Session 6
Michelle Leimsider, Christina Jenkins — NYC iSchool

What would it look like if students not only got to pick their courses starting in their freshman year but were also able to decide which courses were offered? What would happen if students were asked to evaluate both their courses and their teachers at the end of every quarter and if that feedback was then used to improve teaching practice? The NYC iSchool was founded on three main beliefs: that students thrive when given choice and responsibility, that learning should be real-world relevant, and that the high school experience should be developmentally appropriate and individualized. Paramount to the implementation of each of these beliefs is creating a school community where students are getting what they want and need when they need it and the iSchool knows that one of the best ways to determine student needs and wants is to ask the student’s themselves. During this conversation, our students will lead a discussion about how their voice is heard at the iSchool and how other schools use student voice. iSchool students will then provide participants with tangible ways to incorporate student voice in their own classrooms and schools.

Conversational Practice

After a very brief introduction to situate the NYC iSchool in the context of other public high schools, students will facilitate a speed-dating-type protocol that will encourage participants to engage in conversations about various common student experiences: schedules, curriculum, class projects, clubs, etc. Each student will facilitate a conversation with one of these experiences, will share how their own voice has transformed these experiences at the iSchool, and will invite participants to share their own stories. Each group will rotate after about 10 minutes, with time for a closing activity.

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