#Edchat Summary: Bringing Students into the Discussion to Improve Schools by @inquirebook

Guest post from @inquirebook in the #Edchat Category & other 12noon NYC summaries found on Berni Wall’s blog!

Today’s #edchat topic, How do we bring students into the discussion on how to improve the school environment? was intriguing. In the discussion, most participants pointed out that we cannot invite students to the table unless we are also prepared to work with their suggestions. A few focused on how a shift in culture needs to occur, one in which students take ownership of their own educations and learn to advocate for themselves. Some pointed out that students who are allowed to make their own choices often make bad choices, but others argued that the only way to learn how to make decisions is to make many decisions. The group generally agreed that if students are invited to offer suggestions, they should also be part of solving the problem, not just leaving adults to do the solving.

At a future #Edchat I’d be interested in discussing, What alternative models would allow the government to ensure school quality without relying on high-stakes testing?

Main Themes of the Chat

  • We need to listen to students.
  • We need to help students develop a sense of ownership in their educations.
  • To do so, we need a shift in school culture.
  • Students need to make decisions–many of them–and mistakes in order to learn to be problem solvers.
  • Digital solutions could give everyone a voice and provide students a format they understand.

Thought-Provoking Comments

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that inspired me and made me reflect.

@TJwolfe_: First of all, let students speak!! Stop lecturing and start listening! #edchat
@tomwhitby: We cannot invite students to the table unless we are willing to accept what they have to offer. #Edchat
@inquirebook: I think we first ask students what the goals of school should be–a guiding question for their inquiry. #edchat
@TheresaShafer: Have open forums for students, not just elected student councils. #edchat
@jessievaz12: We recently asked our 6th gr stdts to brainstorm ideas on how to improve transition from 5th. Amazing what came out. #edchat
@tomwhitby: We need the leadership to accept the fact that the learning environment needs change, and opinions for that change. #Edchat
@davidwees: If our schools are to be representations of our democracy, they must be more democratic. All stakeholders need a voice. #edchat
@Aaron_Eyler: How about realizing that just because they are kids doesn’t mean their ideas aren’t better than those with degrees? #edchat
@davidwees: Students learn how to make decisions by making decisions, lots of them. #edchat
@tsocko: Put the discussion in a format that kid communicate…digital! #edchat
@inquirebook: If students take ownership of their education, it ceases to be something *done* to them. #edchat
@tomwhitby: Teaching kids HOW to learn seems more important than WHAT to learn. Involving kids in the decision process is a HOW to learn thing #Edchat
@jheil65: Hard to change the environment w/o first changing the culture. . .Create the kind of school you want and the environment will follow #edchat
@21stprincipal: Students have to believe they have a say in what happens in their school. #edchat
@tomwhitby: If kids own an idea, they are more likely to support it. Works for teachers as well. #Edchat
@shfarnsworth: We must teach our students to transform their voice into a mean for change. How to inspire/create action! Responsible Citizen #edchat
@monicaannebatac: Students must learn 2 be activists & advocates for themselves – in school & beyond. – & also listen 2 and consider other voices #edchat
@jaluribe: Participation has to start in kindergarten. Older students can be like birds in open cages. Believing they can’t fly. #edchat
@CTuckerEnglish: Including all student voices is logistically challenging. Using an online forum might allow for equity of voices in convo #edchat
@TJwolfe_: We need to make school decision making into a teachable moment for everyone! Students included. #edchat
@ShellTerrell: Getting students involved in edreform begins with a question & continues with implementation of ideas #edchat
@Aaron_Eyler: It is totally a heretical thing. Ppl in charge didnt get listened to in school so they don’t listen to kids today. #edchat #breakthecycle
@CTuckerEnglish: If we engage students in process of determining how to best improve schools, that creates buy in & accountability. #edchat

To follow the complete discussion visit the transcript here!

More Resources

As ever, there were some great links shared:

@readingrockets: What makes a school good? http://ow.ly/6gDjp
@Inga_Ros I spoke about that at the #140edu You can see my presentation here http://t.co/TIKYnXo
@edutopia: Worth a read. RT @kylepace: What Schools Can Learn Frm #Google, IDEO, & Pixar http://t.co/42W2sfz

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 3000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

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I’m Rob King, lead author of Inquire: a Guide to 21st Century Learning. It’s a student handbook that teaches 21st century skills, study skills, inquiry, and project-based learning. I’m also editor in chief at Sebranek, Inc., the parent company of Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning. To learn more, go to www.thoughtfullearning.com.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations

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