Our school, our voice: The importance of student input

Our school, our voice: The importance of student input

Photo credit: Lauren Kaled

By Editorial Board

If school is for the students, should we not have a say in what goes on in the building? Despite students being the ones to experience firsthand what occurs in the classrooms, our opinion is often overlooked by administrators, teachers and staff. Though these authority figures may have more knowledge of education as a whole, only the students know how they learn best. The ability to communicate student voice is imperative to a successful learning environment. 

When students’ opinions are valued, they feel more engaged in the learning. The opportunity to give feedback on classroom structure and lesson plans allows students to express what is helping build their understanding and what is not. The reflection of this feedback in future lessons not only helps students learn more efficiently but also makes them excited to learn. They are able to explore concepts that they are intrigued by and utilize ways of learning that they genuinely like. This benefits both the students and the teachers as both are able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. 

Student voice is beneficial beyond the classroom. It provides students with practice advocating for themselves, which is an important real-world skill. The ability to respectfully express an opinion and clearly communicate what is needed is something many adults cannot even do. Promoting student voice in schools provides students with these skills before they even enter the workforce. 

Students might not understand all the nuances of education that teachers have studied for years such as the methods of teaching various subjects, but this does not mean their opinion is invalid. Students know themselves best, which is not something that can be learned through an education degree. Each year, class and student is different from the rest, and they all need different resources to be successful. These cannot be assumed, but rather should be asked. 

This year, the school has made progress listening to students’ opinions on the learning environment and strategies used at North by implementing more opportunities to showcase student voice. Students were chosen to speak on a panel to share their opinion on teacher credibility and the components such as trust, competence, dynamism and immediacy. Events like this are steps in the right direction for a successful learning environment at North, but there is more work to be done. Hopefully, the light shed on this topic will call teachers to action in their own classrooms. Whether it be mid-year surveys or just asking students what they could do to help their learning, teachers can do more to promote student voice at North. 

One of the main ways we communicate our student voice is through our student produced newspaper. Within each story, our staff is able to convey students’ opinions and represent the larger student body in hopes of creating change throughout the school. This is one of our longest and most consistent examples of student voice showcased throughout the school. While keeping up our part, we hope the school furthers its attempt to increase this representation of student opinion now and for years to come.