A Message For Classrooms Around The World As We Begin A New School Year: Pull Up A Seat… Your Student Voice Is Valued.

In any circle of discussion around education, student voice deserves a seat at the table.

Why? It’s simple-- the learning journey, they way every student sees, experiences & feels valued & welcomed as a collaborator within the environment of shared space weaves the very fabric of our future.

As you sit & consider the weight of what all this means & contemplate the HOW of making it happen in your classroom for your students, ask yourself this--”What did 5 year, 10 year, or 17 year old me want to tell the teacher? The world?” Now ask yourself “Why that didn’t happen?” or if it did happen remind yourself of how it happened.

Student Voice is not just something we do with technology. It’s a pedagogy. When blended these two powerful forces can change the mode, volume & distance in which student voice can be created, heard & have impact.

Working in a small suburban school district in Norton, Massachusetts, we find ourselves using creative thinking & leveraging resources to provide students with engaging, meaningful & authentic learning experiences.

Across the grade levels & across curriculum, here are some ways the district I work in has embedded opportunities for students voice to be heard both academically & socially. Perhaps you will be inspired to try something similar in your classroom or district!

Flipgrid Monday Morning Meet Up- In one specialized program, each Monday a student assumes the role of creating a Flipgrid Topic to discuss, share & contemplate through interactive videos. Students respond to the topic as well as to each other’s responses. Students share perspectives while respectfully engaging in dialogue expanding their knowledge & exercising their ability to express opinions, ideas, solutions & more.

Lancer Film Festival “The Lancer Film Festival was created to celebrate media & multimedia projects produced by Norton's students & staff. The Festival showcases what can be accomplished when talented students & dedicated educators work together to integrate media into our schools.” - Karen Winsper, Director of Instructional Technology, Norton Public Schools

Spread The Word to End the Word Campaign Schools & classrooms throughout the district support encourage any students who wish to to sign the pledge. This campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word to facilitate more accepting attitudes & communities. Pledging as a district to use respectful, people-first language is a student voice which is amplified both locally & globally.

GSA Day of Silence Students are invited to participate in the Day of Silence during lunches in support of The National Day of Silence each April. This national youth movement guides focus to the silence faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & questioning individuals. The silence during lunches symbolizes the silence which is exemplified by anti-LGBTQ bullying, name-calling, & harassment.

EdCampSoutheasternMA Student Panel As we head to our 3rd year organizing #EdCampSEMass, the student panel will be back again by popular demand! Students & attendees leave the conversation with fresh, new ideas & considerations that if not for the dialogue may never had made the radar. Read here for a first hand student blog account of what the student panel offers for student voice!

Kimberly Zajac, MA CCC- SLP/A; C/NDT

Kim is a certified speech/language pathologist and Audiologist at Norton Middle School and Norton High School. She holds specialized certification in the area of Neuro-developmental Treatment with Pediatrics and is a Level 2 Certified Google Educator, and a Flipgrid Ambassador. She is Co-Leader of the MassCUE SLP/Special Education SIG, moderator of #SlpSpedChat and is a Co-Founder of @EdCampSoutheasternMA. She has presented at MassCUE Fall Conference 2016 & 2017, at the MASCD/MassCUE Spring 2018 Leadership Conference, at the New England League of Middle Schools Annual Conference 2017 & 2018, at the LSDO Dinner Series 2018, ISTE Affiliates Day 2018 as well a number of Norton Public Schools District Professional Development events and Book Study Chats.

With over 20 years experience working with individuals across a variety of settings, Kim specializes in creating programs and learning strategies to support families and students with a wide range of disabilities including the areas of communication, movement, cognition, verbal and non-verbal learning, executive function, social thinking, and social-emotional regulation. She is passionate in supporting student agency through voice and choice as well as establishing equitable access and opportunity for ALL students. Kim supports innovative integration of educational technology tools in instruction for all students as well as in specialized service delivery.

You can follow Kim on Twitter @ZajacSLP or on her website: http://mrszajacslp.weebly.com/