I support school teams nationwide through the process of unpacking survey and focus group data from their communities. One consistent trend across school districts is that most adults overestimate their ability to understand and empathize with their students’ experiences at school. Even teachers who regularly work directly with students and have the best intentions tend to misrepresent students’ feelings and beliefs about their academic and social experiences at school. This trend is particularly problematic when a district’s strategic plan, the framework that guides decisions impacting students most, is written solely by adults. Nearly every school district strives to write a student-centered strategic plan, but how student-centered can your plan be without actively including student voice throughout the planning process?
“I want to be in the room where it happens...” There are so many powerful scenes in the award-winning musical, Hamilton. The moment Aaron Burr laments being left out of the decision-making process is not only a turning point in the story but a great depiction of how many feel when it comes to the all-important “rooms” where decisions that affect their lives are made.
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