How do we truly know ourselves? At what moment do we realize that we are our best advocate for what we want in life and what makes one person know, and another person a little lost at times? At the root of all of the impactful changes in my life thus far lives a profound moment when I decided to truly listen to myself. To do that, you have to know who you are, and what is important to you. Ultimately, what we want out of life is true self-efficacy, to believe in one’s ability to succeed. This is connected to everything, especially our desire to be part of special or impactful things such as our learning communities. It is through our experiences, failures and resilience, regardless of the topic or situation that feeds our self-awareness and self-love, but it all begins when we start listening to our own voice. Change that matters is never accomplished in isolation, but it certainly begins when we start listening to ourselves.
If we believe that we need that for ourselves in order to have a full life then we should be asking ourselves how we are nurturing this for learners, and not only for learners, but for everyone in our learning communities. Stakeholder voice should be at the center of everything we do if we want to produce vibrant learner agents that will feed our society for the greater good. However, in order for them to step up to that challenge, they too must first know their own voice.
No one has all of the answers with how to build a learning community grounded in vision, culture and transparency, but we do know that voice is at the center of all of those things too. What are some ways we can build and use stakeholder voice to drive decision-making so that we are practicing listening to ourselves and each other? How might we model this for our learners and nurture it in them as well?
Here are four strategies that Kenowa Hills Public Schools uses to practice collecting stakeholder voice to drive decision-making:
- Design a decision-making process that is used at all sites
- One of the key leverage actions to becoming a system is to design a decision-making process, and then to put it into action. An essential element of that decision-making process must be the inclusion of stakeholder voice. Once you design the procedure, you put it into practice and continuously improve over time.
- Using student voice in the classroom to drive instruction and environment
- High School students are teaching the literature class for the last hour and leading class discussions. To help make this successful, prior to leading the class, the students have a pre-meeting with the teacher to review the rubric for the assignment. From there, they have to decide how they are going to present the material and engage their classmates.
- When looking to improve the classroom libraries, teachers used student recommendations to expand and improve the books and tools made available.
- Using stakeholder voice for input in policies and procedures
- In order to develop the cell phone policy for the 2018-1029 school year, Kenowa Hills High School formed a committee that consisted of three parents, thirteen students and three teachers. The committee met two times to form the policy.
- Using surveys to collect input to drive impactful decisions
- Many organizations use surveys to collect input and feedback from the various stakeholder groups. As Kenowa Hills learns more and more about practices for collecting voice, and then how to use it effectively, they have started being more focused on the overall process rather than being prescriptive. One example is giving teachers input to determine the performance levels relative to growth (student achievement data) in terms of teacher evaluations.
- Due to previous feedback, they have also created a stakeholder voice team dedicated to ensuring a variety of voices from all levels of the organization are used in the decision-making process.