In my time as principal of Aztec High School in New Mexico, one of my main goals has been to promote a culture centered on student voice. I’m proud to say that our school values student voice and actively seeks out input from students to shape our academics, extracurricular programming, and building culture. And when a school shooting took the lives of two students in December 2017, our commitment to student voice became a vital component to our school community’s recovery. (more…)
Schools benefit when students share their voices, but how often do we take the time to truly listen to what they have to say? The Quaglia Institute suggests that students are seven times more academically motivated when they believe their voices are heard as compared to students who do not. How might we integrate student voice into the way schools work while also honoring what students have to say? (more…)
Each year I invite our teachers at Montour High School to participate in the Shadow a Student Challenge. For one week, a group of teachers spends time following students around the building, attending their classes, and joining them in lunch, activities, and more. Afterward, the teachers and I get together and talk about their shadowing experiences. It was during one of these afternoon conversations that changed the direction of our school community for the better.
Guest post by Kasey Teske
In secondary schools, the greatest untapped resource is our students. Most of our students care deeply about school and have numerous ideas about how to improve their campus community. But how often do we, as principals, involve students in our school improvement efforts? Do the students in our school even know our improvement priorities? Are they allowed to give input and help create our school improvement plans? I submit that the more principals give students a voice in their school, the more improvement will move in the right direction. (more…)
Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, which claimed the lives of 17 students and educators, advocates around the country organized a national movement demanding change to better protect our schools and communities from gun violence. Leading that movement are student survivors of the shooting joined by thousands of young people across the country.
The NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee joined those efforts, organizing advocacy events and actions to honor the lives of the Stoneman Douglas victims and to call for policy change. Here are testimonials about that advocacy from one of the students on the committee and one of the committee’s adult advisers: (more…)
Guest post by Bobby Bennett
In 2012, I became principal of my alma mater—only the second alumnus since the 1890s to have such an opportunity. No pressure! Eager to begin the work of serving my community and school improvement, I held a series of meetings with staff and the school community over the course of the first three months. These meetings would shape our work for the next five years. In fact, what we learned and put into practice not only yielded academic success, it transformed the culture of our school. (more…)
Guest post by John Clements
I am an optimist about the future of schools and learning. My unwavering hope as an educational leader springs from the expanding definition of what it means to be a successful school. For decades, perhaps since the foreboding message of “A Nation at Risk,” educators have equated success with one word: achievement. While the lens of student achievement may provide a well-intentioned view of school, it clouds the vision of schools as places that engage, empower, and inspire students. Achievement ignores the inherently aspirational aspects of learning.
Ask any mom or dad what type of schooling they want for their child and you’re likely to hear about (more…)
When students’ free expression evolves into an organized protest or walkout during school hours, principals and other school officials find themselves in a conflict between supporting student voice and fulfilling their custodial duty toward students. Here are some considerations if students are planning an organized protest or walkout during school hours: (more…)
Guest post by Nathan Boyd
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a school principal is that children need to be in a relaxed state of mind in order to perform at their full potential. If students’ physical and emotional needs are not being met, their minds will not be ready to engage. Sounds obvious, right? Actually, creating the right conditions for students to learn is one of the biggest challenges for us as educators, because so many factors are beyond our immediate control. (more…)
Guest post by Jethro Jones
We often give lip service to the idea of empowering students.
Yes, we all agree it is important, but the adults in the building are the ones who really know best.
Yes, kids’ ideas matter, but they don’t really know what they’re talking about.
Yes, kids have good ideas, but the adults still take credit for those ideas. (more…)