Likes, Shares and Student Voice

Our superintendent has a student advisory. He sits down regularly with high school students to get a pulse on how they are feeling about school, and he uses their insights and ideas to help shape the work of the district.  This week I got the opportunity to sit in with them.

It was incredible.

Our students are amazing.  They are smart and talented and honest.  They see through the haze of politics and rhetoric, and they are able to define issues in a way that adults may not.

We talked about kindness, and we talked about what it looks like to be bullied in this day and age.  They shared that we have done a good job addressing the old school bullying of shoving kids in a locker.  But they also shared that adults don’t truly understand what it looks like to be bullied today.

It is covert.  It is behind a keyboard or a smartphone.  It is about isolation and alienation.

One student spoke about the disappointment and pain that comes when someone posts something nasty about you on social media.  He shared that even worse than the original post are the people who pile on by liking the post.  He talked about clicking on the likes and finding people he thought were his friends.  He was articulate and thoughtful.  He said, “I’m sure they just thought the post was funny.  But I thought they were my friends.”

It made me pause to think about what I have liked or shared on social media.

We didn’t arrive at one, all-encompassing answer to prevent bullying.  But the students have a strong understanding of what is happening, and they feel passionately that they are the ones with the voice to address it.  They want to be the ones to change their own culture.

Student voice is powerful.  Our students are talking, and we are listening.

As we jump into the week before spring break, I encourage you to listen to your students.  Talk to them.  What are their concerns, their ideas, and their passions? How do they want to demonstrate their learning?

Yes, student voice is powerful.  Are you listening?

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