Guide for Educators: Learning Out Loud

Elevating Student Voices in Education

Linda Tigani, Tony Laing, and Adriana Villavicencio (2017)

Traditionally, schools have often made decisions about instruction, discipline, and other schoolwide policies without youth involvement. And yet, research suggests that when students have choice, control, and leadership opportunities, their motivation and engagement increase, which in turn is linked with better educational outcomes. This new guide describes programs developed by two New York City high schools – Brooklyn Preparatory Academy and the Academy for Young Writers (AYW) –designed to elevate student voices. As part of their participation in the Expanded Success Initiative, both schools focused on creating structured regular opportunities for students to be heard. 

The guide, Learning Out Loud: Elevating Student Voices in Education, outlines two specific programs:

  • The Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) program at AYW: a student-led program that seeks to create a safe space to discuss race, gender, and sexuality while empowering students to be leaders in eliminating homophobia and transphobia in their schools; and
  • The Social Justice Panel program at the Brooklyn Preparatory High School: a program that offers an alternative to traditional disciplinary methods by giving students the opportunity to decide disciplinary outcomes for infractions committed by their peers.

This guide was developed as part of our ongoing evaluation of ESI, an effort to improve college and career readiness among Black and Latino young men in 40 NYC high schools.

The guide includes materials that were used in each program, which can be found in “Tools for Educators”. Readers are free to use these tools—and adapt them as necessary—to implement similar programs for their classrooms.