Educon 2.0 – What is Student Voice

video clip SLA conversationEducon 2.0 was held last weekend at the Science Leadership Academy. It was billed as an “unconference” with focus on conversation rather than traditional sessions. I met many people whose blogs I read, and many people came up to me and said the same thing! It was if my twitter and RSS feeds came to life.

I had the chance to lead a conversation about Student Voice. It was a little unnerving, going in to the session with no slideshow and no master plan of what I would say or do. I had a few graphics gathered and a few things I wanted to talk about, but other than that, I was depending on the audience to pitch in and sustain the conversation. I have to say I think it went really well!

Student Voice sessinoThere is a video of the conversation, and all of the sessions at Educon were live streamed on the web by students from the school. I haven’t watched it, I’m too chicken to watch myself!

I did play enough to see that it doesn’t start exactly at the beginning, it starts in the middle of a discussion where we deconstructed the Wikipedia definition of student voice and opened the conversation that way. This is also on the same wiki page under the video.

SLA students talking about student voiceTo me, there were several great takeaways from the session. First, the students and teachers from the Science Leadership Academy came and were active participants. They had a wide variety of opinions about what student voice meant and were able to provide really clear and compelling examples from their own school. Even in a school where student voice is a primary tenet, it still needs constant debate and refreshing.

Another big aha moment for me was a discussion of the place for both student voice and teacher expertise. Audience participationThe students there were quite adamant that they valued the expertise of their teachers and in fact, wanted to be taught. But both students and teachers alike could give great examples of how listening to students created opportunities for greater connection to the lessons, and ideas for activities that the teacher might not have thought of by themselves. The input of students did not diminish the expertise of the teacher, but in fact enhanced the learning experience.

I’d like to write more about Educon 2.0. It was a very rich experience, probably the first conference in a decade where I wanted to go to every single session! My excuse is that it’s been a busy week for me. After Philladelphia I went to New York City, visited with some of our schools in Yonkers, and then drove up to Massachusetts for a meeting with a new potential partner. Hopefully I can share more about that later!


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