Supporting Student Voice for English Learners

Students are empowered when their values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds are respected, and when instructional approaches and techniques reflect their choices, interests, passions, and ambitions. The barriers to developing student voice are particularly challenging for English Learners (ELs) who may literally find themselves without a voice in the school community.
Underlying Principles
The following conditions support student voice for English Learners in the educational community:
• The chance to belong to a group working to effect positive change in the learning environment (e.g., student governance or ambassador clubs).
• A trusting relationship with an adult advocate who knows and values them (e.g., advisories).
• Students have choice in what they learn and how they learn it (e.g., project-based learning).
• Students take ownership for their learning by setting goals and monitoring their progress (e.g., personal learning plans and student-led conferences).
Teachers can empower English Learners within their classrooms as well as by acting as an advisor or support for extra-curricular clubs and activities. 
Teachers must create a set of conditions in which EL students have a voice in the decision-making process about their own learning and issues that affect their daily experiences in school.
Four teachers from Nashua NH discuss and reflect on strategies they used to build student voice for English Learners in their classrooms. The discussion follows the process they used (Analyze-Develop-Implement-Evaluate) to assemble and submit their teaching portfolio for the ExcEL micro-credential.
The Student Voice Micro-credential
Focus on Student Ambassador and Mentoring Programs
ExcEL: Community Meeting
ENL Ambassadors
Larry Ferlazzo teaches English, Social Studies, and IB classes to ELs and mainstream students at Luther Burbank HS in California. He is a prolific writer and this link takes you to a curated page of practical blog posts related to student voice.
Blog Posts – Student Voice.
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