student voice

Get Your Leadership Ego Out of the Way and Empower Your Students

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…)

Raising Student Voices to Strengthen School Communities

Guest post by Robert Nolting

For many students, school seems to be done to them, not with them. At Victor J. Andrew High School (VJA) in Tinley Park, IL, we make it a point to raise a student’s voice not only as a spotlight, but a headlight—leading the way, we carry on throughout the year. At VJA, this starts with our Senior Leaders and Principal’s Advisory groups.  (more…)

Changing Paradigms from Adult-Centered to Student-Centered Learning in Schools: A Powerful Shift and Catalyst for Change

Guest post by Autumn Pino

I will be the first to admit that what I am about to say might be a little controversial, and maybe even a bit daunting for some.  (more…)

Leading in the Google Classroom Era

Guest post by Brad Currie 

Over the past year, Google Classroom has taken the educational world by storm. Teachers and students are now able to thrive in a paperless world. School leaders must support this new way of life while respecting the transition from traditional methods. So how can a school leader leverage the power of Google Classroom to promote student and staff success? Let’s take a look … (more…)

Student Voice: Empowering the Student Learner

Guest post by Ted Huff

Within our educational system, and at the heart of all that we do, exists the proverbial “student desk.” In that seat rests the most powerful, engaging, and often untapped school resource. By taking and making time to include student perspective and voice within the academic, social, and behavioral facets of the school day, you will witness increased student engagement, greater student buy-in, and decreased behavior concerns.


Using Technology to Empower Students

There remains very little debate about whether students should use technology in learning. If there remains a doubt, let the adult without a computer on their desk—or in their pocket or laptop bag—cast the first stone. Technology is ubiquitous, and schools should be no exception.

A massive question remains, however, about how kids should use that technology. Sadly, some schools leverage new tools to streamline the same old methods of learning. And not surprisingly, these schools are seeing little effect on their students’ achievement. To make the most of our investment, we need to use technology to empower students to lead their own learning. (more…)

Student Voice: Beyond the School Walls

Guest post by Archie Weindruch and James Gomez, seniors, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, IA. Archie and James are active in Raising Student Voice and Participation, an NASSP student program.

Over the past four years at Bettendorf High School, we have seen the importance of student voice and student leadership within schools and communities. We have seen the student body bring forth refreshing and new ideas for our school, and we have seen these ideas come to fruition right before our eyes. This is one of the most exciting parts about the organization that we have here at Bettendorf High School called RSVP, or Raising Student Voice and Participation. (more…)

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: A Senior’s Perspective on Leadership

Guest post by Hannah Chin, senior, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, IA. Hannah is an active member of Raising Student Voice and Participation, an NASSP student program.

I strongly believe that the biggest mistake students make is not becoming involved in leadership organizations as they go through school.

Although there were opportunities for leadership in middle school, I never sought them out. Believing that my voice would not matter and lacking a bit of confidence, I opted to sit out of organizations where I could make a difference for my school or community. (more…)

RSVP: A student’s perspective

Guest post by James Gomez, a student at Bettendorf High School, Iowa:

The first time I was told about the basic concept of RSVP, I was intrigued and fascinated by it. A student body directly bringing about change within their school is a unique concept. Though at that time I was a few years too young to be a part of this organization, I knew it was something that I wanted to join. RSVP is a student-led organization within a school that gives a voice to the student body and helps to build leadership capacity within students.

What is RSVP?
RSVP, created by the National Association of Student Councils in 2006, empowers the student body to identify issues within their school. These concerns and ideas are then taken to principals and school administrators, who work together with students to address them. This line of communication from student to administration helps the student body feel confident that their voices are being heard and valued.

A student-led leadership team and student facilitators are essential parts of an RSVP program. Comprised of students who are willing to take leadership roles, the RSVP leadership team represents the student body and helps to organize the RSVP student facilitators. The leadership team trains facilitators to run student summits in order hear what students like about their school and what could be changed within it.

When the facilitators have gathered this information, the leadership team picks out the top concerns from the first summit and has the facilitators return to the student body for a second summit to ask students for their ideas for solutions. To make changes within the school, the leadership team meets with the principal to discuss what steps can be taken to address the concerns of the student body. More student summits can be held to gather student reaction or to call students to action to help make the change a reality.

RSVP’s Impact
My experience with RSVP began as a freshman in high school. I signed up with a high level of enthusiasm for the concept of RSVP, but I did not know what to expect out of the program. During facilitator training, the leadership team showed the trainees some of the changes that had been brought about through RSVP.  Changes to various school facilities, events, and policies were all included in that list. It was then that I fully realized what kind of potential RSVP had within a school.

After my freshman facilitator training, I was approached by the RSVP teacher advisor and asked if I would like to join the leadership team. The members of the leadership team saw that I had shown energy and leadership potential during the training. I was thrilled to take a more involved role in a program with which I was already impressed.

During my freshman year, I facilitated summits, participated in leadership team meetings and activities, and helped inform other schools about RSVP. Additionally, I helped bring about a major policy change concerning cell phone use at my school. This large shift in policy allowed me to see just how much RSVP empowers the student body’s voice to make substantial changes.

During my sophomore year, I attended a Student Council State conference with RSVP to present the RSVP program to students and educators from around the state. The interest and enthusiasm that people showed over our presentations helped me see how beneficial it can be to share RSVP with other schools. Additionally, during my second year on the leadership team, I took the lead of a subcommittee of the leadership team that dealt with all lunchroom-related concerns brought to light during summits. Taking this leadership role meant stepping out of my comfort zone to work independently to take on problems that the student body had voiced through RSVP.

Since first joining RSVP, my leadership and teamwork skills have grown exponentially. Working with peers on the leadership team as well as with facilitators has made me a more confident speaker and communicator. I believe that RSVP is beneficial not only for schools as institutions, but also for the students involved in it. For these reasons, RSVP has been an important part of my school and an important program for me personally.

To me, RSVP is empowerment of students to create the change that they want to see in their own school. RSVP allows many students to get involved and make a positive difference in their school environment. Students and administrators around the country can benefit from RSVP and from the differences that it makes within their schools.

James Gomez is currently a junior and Lead Team member of RSVP at Bettendorf High School in Iowa.  Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy), principal of Bettendorf High School, will speak about RSVP’s impact on students like Gomez at Ignite ’14 an Extended Learning Lab on Saturday, February 8, 2014.