Introduction

Introduction

How can we utilize student voice to grow teacher practice?
At many schools, student voice is conspicuously absent to the detriment of both teachers and students. Schools need to go beyond student surveys and acknowledge students as experts in the student experience. Students should be empowered to serve as student consultants to their teachers and bring their unique expertise on teaching and learning to bear. Specifically, students are uniquely positioned to know how to cultivate student motivation, engagement, and belonging at their school site. By increasing student agency and student voice, student consultants can serve as critical levers of school improvement. The aim of the project is that by April 2016, 5 teachers and 9 participating students will feel that student consultants were mutually beneficial. Specifically, cooperating teachers actively implement student feedback.

At the same time, teachers lack feedback about the experience students are having in their classes. Most teacher evaluation systems focus their feedback on instruction or what the teacher is doing. In contrast, student consultants can provide feedback to teachers centered on the student experience and foster meaningful dialogue to help teachers grow their practice. With the right structures and training this dialogue can be productive for both teachers and students. To achieve this goal a representative student consultant group will be be trained in instructional coaching, observe cooperating teachers, and utilize protocols to foster dialogue.

This student consultant structure is easily replicated yet can be refined based on the needs of different school sites. It allows student voice to play a key role in shifting teaching practices to be more student centered. Empowering students to serve as consultants shifts the paradigm of who is an expert at a school site and provides a structure to ensure that teachers engage in meaningful dialogue about their practice.