Why would students feel valued at school?

Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

Without having seen the exact survey questions, here are some quick reactions I have to these data…

  • Why on earth would students say they feel valued at school? In most schools, students are told what to do nearly every minute of every school day, are generally treated as passive recipients of whatever adults foist on them, have their thoughts and opinions routinely and blatantly ignored or dismissed when it comes to day-to-day operations, and are punished whenever they deviate from organizational compliance structures. The number of schools in which students have significant input into things that actually matter is miniscule. But, hey, it’s all about the kids and we care.
  • Kids are bored. Gallup boredom data reinforce the Quaglia boredom data, as do the tidal waves of anecdotes from anyone you want to ask about their school experience. But we don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it.
  • Everyone’s a learner, everyone’s a teacher. Online we exist within interconnected, interdependent webs of learning and teaching. But not in school.

Your thoughts and reactions?

Data source: How to help kids find their aspirations

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6 Responses to “Why would students feel valued at school?”

  1. Each student being known, valued and treasured is a key part of the mission statement of the religious order who run the school I teach at. I don’t know what the students think, though there is some evidence they do feel valued, but the faculty does take this to heart. A key part of making a student feel known and valued is the interaction between students and teachers outside of class. Conversations during lunch, before/after school and in non-teaching parts of the day. I think it can also be shown in the way teachers interact with students during class. Do teachers pay attention to student’s needs and adapt the lesson to their interests. And much more.

  2. I’m in a public school and I’ve done surveys of my students with these same type of questions. In some curriculums learning is still passive but from where I stand it isn’t always that way. I won’t go that mine is some perfect way in which that never happens but through use of projects and choice I hope students are able to add thier own value and focus to stimulate thier learning.

  3. I’ll go for the elephant in the room.

    SPORTS!

    Because what are the real priorities in our schools? Lets look at what’s actually celebrated, valued, and promoted in the schools, the media, and by the population. Around here people have lamented the merger or elimination of bottom performing schools not because of disruptions to the students, but because they had winning football or basketball teams. Good luck getting classroom supplies or enough textbooks, but if the team makes the playoffs those team and fan buses will be paid for.

    Not really the topic you were going for, but you did ask the question.

  4. I found this survey data to be incredibly interesting. It is very upsetting that only 34% of students feel that their teachers understand their hopes and dreams. I am a teacher at a charter school and we focus on investing our scholars in their hopes and dreams and in order to do this you as a teacher need to know and understand your students. In addition, I feel like I can agree with 45% being bored at school. It is incredibly hard to differentiate instruction and challenge students, when there are so many at varying levels. This can cause students to feel like they are not being challenged enough or are being challenged too much, in turn causing a lack of investment and boredom. Thank you for sharing this data.

  5. I think you bring up a really interesting point – why would students feel valued at school if they feel like they have no choice and are simply being told what to do? I also found it extremely disheartening that while almost all students felt like they could be successful in school, far less of them felt like their teachers believed they could be successful or even expect them to be successful. That is a huge problem!

  6. Mark Wachtmeister Reply March 8, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Scott, very interesting data; thanks for sharing. My initial reactions were somewhat mixed – while it’s great to see that nearly 100% of students believe they can be successful, it’s incredibly disheartening that only 45% actually feel valued at school. I totally agree with your point that part of the problem why students feel undervalued is because the far majority of their contributions are quickly rejected or dismissed by teachers and administrators. Also, it’s hard for students to feel like their voice matters when they have little influence on the day-to-day operations. Recently, Michael Thompson, an accomplished clinical psychologist / school consultant in the area of child development as it relates to schooling, took the role of a student for a day and was amazed at how many times he and his classmates were scolded or reprimanded for deviating from the set plan – if we’re so quick to judge our students and tell them they’re wrong on a consistent basis, of course they’ll become disenchanted with the idea of school. Teacher autonomy is certainly a buzzword in the independent school scene as of late – maybe we need to think about giving our students some level of autonomy in order to feel valued in our school communities.

    Another statistic I found interesting (but wasn’t very surprised by) was the level of boredom current students feel in a school setting. From my experience as a students and educator, 45% is understandable. While part of this problem falls on a student for sometimes not fully buying-in and giving his/her full engagement, the majority of this issue falls on the teacher. As educators, we need to be focused on constantly mixing things up in our classrooms, be it with our class exercises, assignments or assessments. The concept of UDL (Universal Design of Learning) has been instrumental in effecting this change in our modern day classroom – essentially providing differentiation in our instructional methods and choice / flexibility for our students will lead to enhanced engagement. With a continued focus on UDL moving forward, that 45% figure should continue to fall!

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