We are Listening, but Do We Hear Them?

James Layman, Director of Student Programs, AWSL
Oct 23, 2020


The Association of Washington Student Leaders has two vibrant student voice groups. We currently have the AWSL Student Voice and Advisory Council, and we have the newly formed Student Equity Cohort. 

These student groups have been at the forefront of our initiatives, mission, and vision. The Association of Washington Student Leaders and the Association of Washington School Principals believes in doing WITH students instead of doing TO students. 

Our student groups have had the opportunities to:
  • Create legislative platforms
  • Guide AWSL's work, 
  • Present at AWSP professional learning series
  •  Speak with the AWSP Associate Directors on student realities
  • This past week the Student Equity Cohort presented to the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee. 
Of all the cool opportunities the students have been able to be a part of, a common theme reintroduces itself at all of our meetings, "We just want to be heard."

For many of our students, the realities are that many adults listen to them but do not hear them. Their perspectives, words, hopes, fears, and concerns often get chalked up as "kids being kids."

As adults and people with positional power, we can foster and create spaces where students can be heard. 

It begins with the belief that their perspectives and stories matter. It's about moving beyond performative student engagement, where we ask questions but disregard their responses. It is about us as adults sitting in potential discomfort and recognizing students' agency and value speaking up and out. 

We also have the responsibility to take action. To walk alongside students and support them in their journeys. Students want us to move beyond listening to them. They want us to hear them. 

Create the space. 

Embrace the gift of student voice. 

Take action WITH students. 

There is no better tag-team combination than that of students and adults walking in and towards the same purpose. 

  • student leadership
  • Student Leadership (AWSL)

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