Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day Two: Carrying Student Voice Forward - How to Have an Impact

Colleagues were posed the following question and told to write their initial thoughts down. Below you will find my own response, which, in typical 'me' fashion, is very rambling:

What strategies or approaches have you used or could you imagine that would help to ensure that student voice work is carried forward?

In my own classroom, I want to begin to create a students-as-researcher culture, in which students are trained in research methods and techniques and then create their own research questions and pursue their own investigations. I envision my own role as that of a 'guide' or 'facilitator' (although I'm not sure if these words actually describe my role)...perhaps 'critical friend' is a better word.

After listening to Rory speak this morning, I feel like it's really important to be able to explain WHY I want to set up this type of programme. I honestly don't see it as something I am doing for myself, or for my own professional gain. Instead, I feel like I'm doing it for the students (as cliche as that may sound). I want to empower them. I want them to build their critical thinking skills. I want them to consider what affects them in school and begin to question how things are done.

I think the education system in the UK needs to be re-structured; at the minute it's very top down, with government authorities, exam board, etc. dictating what goes on in classrooms, disregarding completely what the consumers of the product (the students themselves) actually feel or want. Educators, and people involved in education (including government ministers, policy makers, external agencies, etc.), need to work in partnership with students to design ways of teaching and learning that are mutually beneficial for society.

If I were living in an ideal world, in which I was given free reign to do as a pleased, then I would try to roll out a student-as-researcher scheme within my whole school. However, I think starting small is key; the work I do with my form next year could serve as a pilot of a more large-scale project.

I think time and resources need to be devoted to developing student-as-researcher skills. Engaging students in research projects will, in my opinion, provide them will skills that will make them better members of society, ones who question and explore the world around them instead of accepting things as they are presented to them. Surely these types of skills are necessary in our ever-changing world. If the UK ever hopes to compete with other countries, in terms of academic prowess, then we need to encourage a society in which people are creative, critical thinkers. I guess it all depends on the type of people we want to encourage in the UK; people who work to respond to tests and exams, memorising responses that are 'correct' or people who challenge, think and consider things independently.

Finally, I think that teachers should seize the movement themselves and carry out student voice work regardless of whether or not they get support 'from the top'. If anything, I've learnt throughout this conference that I've got to pursue my own passions and beliefs; at least that way I can positively affect change in a few students, which is better than none!

Note: Listening to Dr Lena Bahou give her speech on Alison Cook-Sather has given me an interesting idea re: my proposed project with student researchers - could the students' findings be put together as a magazine? This way, their findings could be disseminated to the wider school community, and provide a way of recognising the work the students complete. It would give them the power to 'author' their own work.