Enveloped in Every Culture: Student Voice at ITEC

IowaSLI members had the opportunity to speak at ITEC, a large technology education conference in Des Moines, today about student voice. Discussions started with our group about definitions of what student voice is which left us defining them with the questions below.

  • What if our voice is heard?

  • What if our voice is involved?

  • What if our voice inspires?

Some breakthroughs happened for many attendees as they realized student voice is not something tangible that can be touched, hung up on a wall, or systematically implemented: it must be a created culture of equality and inclusion. Student voice is not handed to some and revoked from others, but presented as an opportunity for all students. But really, let's see what the students that presented had to share below.

To get school and life to come together, we need to take risks. -Trae Hall

Students can do so much more than just sit in a desk and absorb information. -Jack Hostager

[Student voice enables us to] rise from where we are at in education and go beyond. -Ian Coon

Right now, we are allowed to make decisions in school, but not important ones. -Austin Metzger

It was shocking to hear students sharing with educators about the oppression of their voice and how in a short time recently they have started to overcome that hurdle. Cell phone bans in school have been relaxed to allow for online networking through #iastuchat. Teachers have brought groups of students to IowaSLI events like RISE and StuCamp. Most importantly, together they have begun the process of mending a culture where students are seen as equal and essential in the role of education.

As a conference culture, Karl Hehr shared with every attendee the upcoming student voice event, the RISE conference. Thousands of educators were gathered and told from national speaker Eric Sheninger that student voice is imperative to education.

"We have to trust kids" -Eric Sheninger