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Student Voice

Student Voice
The Instrument of Change

August 2014 | 216 pages | Corwin

Meaningful school reform starts with your most powerful partner—your students!

Students have plenty of opinions when it comes to school, and they’re not all about free ice cream in the cafeteria. When you take time to listen, you’ll find that students’ aspirations can drive your school toward exciting new goals. And when students know they’re being heard, they develop self-worth, engage meaningfully in their own academic success, and become purposeful in their educations.

This groundbreaking book presents a blueprint for enacting a successful partnership between educators and students. You’ll discover how to

  • Ask the right questions—and understand how to build from the answers you get
  • Engage students in decision-making and improvement-related processes
  • Implement the Aspirations Framework to guide students toward achieving their full potential

Filled with examples drawn from student surveys, focus groups, field observations, and interviews, this unique resource prepares you to lead with the sure knowledge that your students can and will want to join you.

“This book speaks to a movement that many people talk about but few act upon, Student Voice. Quaglia and Corso have lived their professional careers listening to students and acting on what they have heard. Now they share what it takes for education to truly become student-centered.”
—Raymond J. McNulty, Dean of the School of Education
Southern New Hampshire University

“Words cannot accurately capture my impression. It is simply the best education book I've ever read. I'm blown away by the quality, humility, simplicity and complexity, and call to action.”
—Robert Neu, Superintendent
Oklahoma City Public Schools

Introduction: It's Time to Listen
I. Listening
1. Student Aspirations
Dreaming and Doing

The Aspirations Profile

2. The Aspirations Framework
Guiding Principles
Conditions in Schools
Learning to Listen
II. Learning
3. Reality is Not the Enemy
Listening to Learn

Ignorance of Reality is the Enemy

Listening Broadly

4. Students Speak About Self-Worth
Condition 1: Belonging

Condition 2: Heroes

Condition 3: Sense of Accomplishment

5. Students Speak About Engagement
Condition 4: Fun & Excitement

Condition 5: Curiosity & Creativity

Condition 6: Spirit of Adventure

6. Students Speak About Purpose
Condition 7: Leadership & Responsibility

Condition 8: Confidence to Take Action

III. Leading
7. Students as Co-Leaders
The Current Cacophony

8. The Context of Leadership
Aspirations and the Whole Child

Aspirations and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Aspirations as Curriculum

Aspirations in the 21st Century

9. From Student Voice to Our Choice

"Student Voice reveals the secret to turning schools into vibrant communities of engaged learners – simply and profoundly – giving students a voice in their own learning. It offers a hopeful, poignant and elegant vision for closing the gap for the alarming number of students who are disconnected from school. Quaglia challenges educators to value student voice through intentional listening and responsive action and tells them how to create meaningful partnerships that keep students engaged, excited, and achieving. This is a must-read roadmap for reform-weary educators who will be inspired to take the less traveled path of listening to and responding to the voice of each of their students."

Gail Connelly, Executive Director
National Association of Elementary School Principals, Alexandria, VA

"In this book, Dr. Quaglia and Dr. Corso offer a successfully tested framework designed to empower students by giving them a meaningful voice in the educational process. It starts with a conversation that leads to an understanding of student perceptions of their educational experience and ultimately creates a trusting partnership between students and educators. The partnership guides the educational process, positively influences school climate and creates an environment in which students can successfully achieve their aspirations. Student Voice is a professional investment every school community should make."

Steve York, Assistant Superintendent
Montana Office of Public Instruction, Helena, MT

"In this magnificent book, Quaglia and Corso have unearthed a deep missing piece in learning. The elephant in the room, ironically turns out to be Student Voice! And now we have it-their aspirations, the 8 conditions of deep learning relating to self-worth, engagement, and purpose. Thanks to the authors we have a whole new set of strategies where change, learning, educators and students merge.This is innovation at its best."

Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus
OISE, University of Toronto

"Deliberate Optimism is what every teacher needs before the start of school, in the midst of the longest months of teaching, and at the end of the academic year.  The work of Silver, Berckemeyer and Baenen is insightful, uplifting and engaging!  The book is inspiring and reminds all educators they are in control of their own happiness and can transfer that happiness and optimism to students."

Dr. Russell J. Quaglia, Founder
Quaglia Institute for Student Aspiration
Key features

Part 1: Listening we present the Aspirations Framework that has emerged from listening to students.

In order to truly teach our students, we must be willing learn from them. Only they can tell us where they would like their journey to take them beyond school, and that is essential information if we are to do the important work of successfully inspiring and equipping them for what lies ahead. By inviting and encouraging their voices, and being open to what they have to say, educators create a community of collaborative learners.


In Part 2: Learning we share what we have come to understand about the principles and conditions that support students' aspirations, based on what students have told us about their experiences in school.


In Part 3: Leading,
we discuss how, given the present circumstances in education, we can move forward in partnership with students. Whatever the past (Open Class Room, Back to Basics, Ed Reform, etc.) or future (twenty-first century skills, online learning, flipped classrooms, blended instruction, etc.), we know we will not get there in our father's Oldsmobile! We need a hybrid, one that keeps the best of what has fueled effective education until now and combines it with the energy and enthusiasm of our students' hopes and dreams.

Sample Materials & Chapters



2016 School Voice Report

For instructors

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