Youth on Board’s
We Are the Ones in the Classroom – Ask Us!
Youth on Board (YOB), with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will be working to build a broad-based movement across the country to promote student voice and strengthen student teacher relationships in the classroom in an effort to create supportive, equitable, and student-centered school environments. The campaign will seek to transform the way schools and districts view the voices and expertise of young people and their ability to contribute to improve the classroom experience and to support the movement for educational equity and social justice.
Utilizing its experience in Boston and Massachusetts, as well as that of other youth organizers across the country, Youth on Board is leading a project that aims to promote student involvement in teacher evaluations and improving relationships between students and teachers through constructive feedback. Youth on Board ultimately hopes this project will catalyze a national shift that will emphasize the role of student voice, teacher support, educational justice, and positive classroom culture and places relationships at the core. Specifically, YOB plans to:
• Develop a document that brings together experiences and successes from organizations across the country to share their stories with other districts interested in pursuing this campaign
• Compile and host an online toolbox with surveys, press release, letters, policy language for organizations to use to help their campaign
• Develop a national promotional campaign on the importance of student voice in the classroom and improving student and teacher relationships as a vehicle for education and social justice
• Provide assistance to targeted communities from across the country that wish to take on this campaign.
• Support grassroots organizing groups to ensure they engage the students, teachers, teacher unions, and the administration so their campaigns have active community participation and successful implementation.
YOB plans to share its experience with organizations, school districts, cities, unions, and states seeking to change their teacher evaluation systems. Students give input on improving classroom culture and teaching practices by providing constructive feedback in a safe and open process. Students hold an invaluable perspective on what happens in the classroom and they are eager to help their teachers improve and make their classrooms better. By allowing students to participate in the evaluation of their teachers and by strengthening classroom relationships through informal and formal feedback processes, we can elevate the value of student opinion and positive classroom culture to help students and teachers succeed. The goal of the feedback and evaluation is to improve teacher effectiveness and student-to-teacher relationships through tailored professional development and support.
We Are the Ones in the Classroom—Ask Us!” was the title of the 2011 campaign organized by the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) which is a program run in partnership by Youth on Board and the Boston Public Schools. This campaign empowered young people, strengthened dialogue and relationships between students and their teachers, and to led to the overhaul the outdated evaluation system by broadening the scope of who has a say in teacher evaluations. Now students have a place to voice their opinions. Through this organizing project young people worked closely with teachers, students, administrators, and the Boston Teachers Union, knowing that this could only be successful if it had a foundation build on trust and positive relationships. To watch a video about the Boston story, click here.
BSAC worked with the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to undertake a statewide regulation that mandates the inclusion of student perception data in teacher evaluations across the Commonwealth by the fall of 2013. Encouraged by that victory, Youth on Board hosted a national convening of over 70 stakeholders from 10 states at Harvard University in October 2012. This meeting brought the issue of student voice and classroom relationships to the national stage.
About Youth on Board
Since 1994, Youth on Board (YOB), a program in the Education Department of YouthBuild USA, has forged partnerships between youth and adults to create positive communities in which young people are valued, engaged, and heard.
One of YOB’s primary avenues for building youth power is co-administering the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC), a citywide body of elected student leaders working to identify and address student issues, thereby putting students at the center of the decisions that affect them the most. We are driven by the belief that when young people are fully engaged—when their voices are heard, their opinions matter, and their unique perspective is respected—they commit themselves to making their schools, their communities, and their own lives better. Please learn more about us at www.youthonboard.org.