Learning From Young People About How Safe and Supportive Conditions at Home Can Inform School Climate
With most K–12 students having transitioned back into the classroom after a period of distance learning prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, educators have an opportunity to consider how to students as both experts of their own experiences and essential partners in their own education—a concept known as student voice.
To better understand strengths-based insights about safe, responsive home environments, the national Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety (CISELSS) at WestEd convened students from Education for Change Public Schools in Oakland, California, for a virtual focus group in fall 2021. Education for Change then conducted informal follow-up interviews with students to learn more about their experiences.
This guide describes how CISELSS conducted its focus group, some of the school climate ideas that emerged, and other ways that educators might center student voice in improving school climate.
The resulting video and this accompanying inquiry guide can help educators:
- Partner with students to create safer, more supportive learning environments in the classroom by removing assumptions about what student experiences were like at home
- Redefine traditional models of teaching and learning to center student voices
- Invite candid feedback and input from students about both home and school learning conditions
- Co-create an action plan with students for improving school climate
This toolkit offers evidence-based information on the brain and behavior in the context of leadership and educational equity work, including specific strategies to guide leaders in recognizing and responding to physical, social, and emotional needs in the education agency context.
Listening to student voice — listening closely to what students say about their school experiences — can help educators understand topics or problems and rethink practices to inform school improvement efforts.
- Safe and Supportive Learning EnvironmentsWestEd's Safe and Supportive Learning Environments (SSLE) services support your school, district, or state to develop the knowledge and build the capacity needed to foster equitable learning conditions during everyday instruction and throughout school communities.
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