Students Should be Involved in Professional Development (PD)

I’ve always thought this as an active student leader, “How can educators and/or administrators have professional development meetings frequently without getting input or learning from a student voice?” The answer is this: There is no possible way they can do this. I know this from personal experience at my high school, Cape Central. It’s time to speak out on this…it has been way too long.

Students have always been referred to as the heart of education. Just as the heart of the human body pumps blood to and through the veins, students (the heart of education) have to pump blood to and through the educators and/or administrators (veins). If educators and/or administrators are not using the heart of education (students) to pump blood to and through THEM, we lose everything as a entire system – just as the human body would lose everything if the heart wasn’t pumping blood. Blood represents feedback, voice, comments, concerns, questions, ideas, etc. in today’s education systems. 

This is where student voice and professional development meet. If educators/admins (veins) aren’t using the students (heart of education) in their professional development meetings, how can we improve anything or get to the next milestone as schools? Educators cannot expect to plan and develop professionally without getting a student view. Educators today feel as if meeting with other educators on a set time and date will help them significantly. The only aspect of teaching this could help with is the sharing of new ideas to try that you HOPE your students will love and learn effectively from. But, how can you TRULY know they’ll love your “new” ideas that you came up with by sharing ideas with a group of educators like yourself? I can answer that for you: you CANT! You’d only know what your students would love if you’ve asked them before or they were present in your PD meetings. I have a feeling that neither of those options are happening for many educators today. Students are not getting asked these important questions in the classroom…some EDUs say it’s due to time restrains or even a thought of “Oh, I know what my kids like…I don’t even have to ask them.” from educators. How do we fix this? It’s fairly simple….Invite a diverse group of students to your PD meetings! Listen to them! Take from what they have to say! AND YES, the students invited should NOT all be student “leaders” in order to have a better appeal to ALL voices.   

Here are four ideas I’ve thought of to help get students involved in your next PD meetings:

If you have students that use social media at your school, get them to speak at the next PD meeting about how educators/admins could be using social media to better appeal to students and even their parents. Invest in the students voice and ideas! Ask them questions if you have them! If some educators/admins aren’t using social media… a student could even teach how to use a specific platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Have class officers come to PD meetings and report feedback that they have gotten from peers inside their class ranks. Educators and admins aren’t getting much feedback from students these days that is concerned with how classrooms or even the school as a whole is operating for them. Someone has to be the voice for all sometimes…some students are afraid to step up to the plate and say what they really feel inside.

Educators could prepare questions for the students present at PD meetings. EDUs could start with questions like…”How do you learn and engage more and effectively?” Ask students what they think is missing in your school. Ask them important questions! Don’t think just because they are students they don’t know anything. I’m sure your students have been soaking up problems, comments, questions, and/or concerns over the years like a sponge. Open the door that enables them to speak out.

Students could even present ideas to educators at PD meetings that they have found beneficial or they think would work inside or even outside the classroom. Students could explain how these ideas work and educators may grow interest in a STUDENT given idea….If a student is giving an educator an idea that they think will work for them inside or outside the classroom.. you cant go wrong.

I truly believe that these four ideas to help you involve students in your upcoming PD meetings will help you grow and move up the staircase of success!

When the heart of education (students) is pumping blood (feedback, voice, comments, concerns, questions, ideas, etc.) to educators/admins (veins), you have a functioning system that is ready to run, improve something, and meet the next milestone. 

Now we all know there may be some blood clots…but we have to be the solution that breaks the clot when they come about. Student voice is a clot today. Who’s going to break the clot and restore the “blood” flow? 

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