Establishing Student Voice: The First Days of School

Learn how to emphasize student voice during the first days of school to increase motivation and engagement in the classroom.

Establishing Student Voice: The First Days of School

The first days of school are crucial to student success, and it’s critical that teachers establish a connection and relationship with each student in those first few days. It is also the time to set the tone, expectations, and procedures for the classroom.

Although it’s the teacher’s responsibility to set clear rules and expectations, considering your students’ input can pave the way for strong classroom management, and lead to a classroom of motivated and engaged students.

What is Student Voice?

Student Voice is the expression and input of the learner in their education. It gives the student a chance to express their expertise, opinions, and ideas while feeling valued.

Research has demonstrated that Student Voice is a defining factor in the learning process. Students who believe they have a say in school are 7x more likely to be motivated than students who do not believe their opinions are valued. Getting students involved will increase motivation and learning engagement.

To be engaged in their education, students must:

  1. Have a say in how they learn
  2. Discover untapped expertise and knowledge that can bring relevance and authenticity to their learning

Implementing Student Voice allows students to practice the problem-solving, leadership, and creative thinking skills involved with decision-making.

Emphasizing Student Voice in the Classroom

It is essential to create systems and spaces that emphasize student voice in the classroom, and motivation increases if the students are involved in setting those classroom procedures. Take, for example, involving students in deciding the seating arrangements. If the students have a say in the seating charts, they see themselves as part of the decision-making process, making them feel more motivated to follow the established rules.

“But how do I emphasize Student Voice?” It depends. Many schools have systems in place that students and educators must follow. But if you have the chance to customize your procedures — or the opportunity to manage your classroom independently — make the process as student-driven as possible.

Here are a few things you can ask your students to help with:

  • Creating the classroom rules/expectations
  • Sharing what they expect of you as a teacher
  • Determining a fair policy for late work
  • Ideas on desk arrangements and seating charts
  • Creating classroom visuals and/or decorating the classroom with student work
  • Sharing suggestions for positive redirections and/or instructional supports

Implementing Student Voice in Virtual Classrooms

As we enter the ‘21-’22 school year, many teachers continue to serve students in person, as well as online. This leads to a greater challenge as they try to keep their students motivated and engaged in both settings.

Here are some additional ways to implement student voice in virtual classrooms:

  • Sharing suggestions on organizing student resources
  • Decorating your Bitmoji Classroom
  • Establishing bathroom break rules
  • Deciding on late work policies
  • Sharing resources they’ve used in other classes
  • Sharing suggestions on homework policies

Other Tips to Apply Student Voice

  1. Where, when, and how you implement student voice will depend on your school’s existing systems. Study your school policies and figure out where student input would be most beneficial.
  2. If you are new to your school or new to teaching, ask your school administration about general practices and policies. Your head of department, or co-workers teaching the same subject or grade level, can give you extra insight into existing school policies. Then, figure out where to emphasize Student Voice.
  3. If you need additional help on implementing strategies for in-person or virtual classrooms, our specialists can help! Schedule a 30-minute call with a Selected Specialist here.

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