Schools are student-powered when they create opportunities for their students to develop leadership skills by playing an appropriate role in the governance of their own learning community.
Students have a lot to contribute to pedagogical discussions related to scheduling, curriculum design, teaching and learning, assessment policy, and so forth. Their voice can also enhance professional development plans and hiring processes, just as their empowerment can help transform remediation systems.
Students have a central and active role to play in the design and delivery of the their school’s social-emotional curriculum, be it in homeroom and/or through other structures such as peer-support groups.
As important as clubs, assemblies and spirit weeks are to the climate of a school, true empowerment goes beyond these traditional structures and gives students an active role in critical areas, such as discipline. Just like knowledge, rules and culture can be collaboratively constructed and peer-mediated.
Extracurriculars are a vast and open domain where student leadership can thrive. Performance arts, athletics, service, and travel programs constitute fantastic opportunities for student empowerment, much to the example of school-based TEDx events.
Student involvement can add tremendous value to a school’s communication, admissions and advancement efforts, be it through internships giving students real-life experience or community-based social media campaigns.
Student empowerment is an effective way for schools to address performance and opportunity gaps, thus constantly improving and challenging themselves. Students can help identify issues, devise solutions and enact meaningful change.
Jérémie Rostan, founder of the Student Leadership Initiative, is an international educator with 10+ years of experience in student empowerment.