How does your district hear from — and listen to — students?

Burke students share their learning with district leaders

How many school board meetings have you sat through where the only voices you heard came from adults? When was the last time your community — in school or out — asked students what they liked about school? And what would you do with that information if you had it? Would it make you a better school leader?


Students at Burke Town School, in Burke VT, had the opportunity to present to leaders of their school district on exactly what makes *their* learning so engaging. They spoke with the school district administrative team and gave presentations based on their work incorporating the UN’s Sustainable #GlobalGoals. As a result, they felt more valued and heard by the district’s leaders.

And the district leaders loved hearing from their students.

At Burke Town School, students tackle project-based learning through the lens of taking the #GlobalGoals and applying them to their school and community. They’re:

  • building a mountain biking trail;
  • preparing an art walk for mental health;
  • learning how to eradicate invasive species;
  • planting a community garden;
  • teaching first-aid to the younger grades;
  • and examining water quality for sustainable fishing.

And they’re finding the work incredibly engaging, and satisfying. So the next logical step was to share their ongoing work — and their satisfaction — with district leadership.

Students prepared slide presentations explaining the work along with slides that stated bluntly exactly what they find engaging and meaningful about the work.

We got to teach classes to the younger kids about our project. And do hands on activities with them …

We got to pick a topic that you cared about and then make a project to help our town. And you cared about this project so whatever you did was engaging.

School boards and other district personnel can be incredibly receptive to this kind of feedback from their students.

Don’t *you* like to hear that what’s working well in projects *you* care about?

Former Burke Town School district board chair Tony DeMasi encourages this kind of student voice at school board meetings and beyond. He helped bring in a student advisory group to the school board for many years, and is a big fan of student voice in district decisions.

How can your students provide feedback to district leaders?

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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