Student leadership: Allowing students to have real agency

Many schools claim to give students leadership opportunities, but in many ways, these opportunities are just fa├žades. Teachers say students are leading, but in reality, the adults are doing a lot of work behind the scenes. At the Workshop School, teachers make sure that the “behind the scenes” work is student-led as well because if we want students to really learn, they must be involved in every step of the process, not just the end product. On Friday, April 1st, Advisory 215 hosted Open Mic Night–a showcase of poetry, dancing, and music open to the entire community. Students were responsible for every aspect of the night. From building a stage and a podium to soliciting donations for food and decorations and from auditioning students in the weeks leading up to the night to MC’ing the performances on the actual night, students were in control.

Of course, teachers and administrators were present to provide support and guidance, but final decisions, details, and deliberations were in the hands of the students. What happens when educators are guides on the side instead of sages on the stage? Not only do students learn more, but also, they are given chances to problem solve in authentic spaces for real audiences. IMG_2850
Above: Over 150 community members attended the First Annual Workshop School Open Mic Night.