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Tolt Middle School's Inclusion Advisory Team Amplifies Student Voice

Riverview School District Professional Learning Leader, Mark Klune, has worked hard this year to put student voice at the heart of his work with students and staff at Tolt Middle School. Recently, Mr. Klune facilitated four listening sessions with a new Tolt Inclusion Advisory Team to discuss issues of importance to Tolt students.

Over the course of several weeks, approximately 20 students joined Mr. Klune, staff, and school and district administration, discussing potential solutions to issues they had identified earlier in a schoolwide survey.

One session concerned making Tolt safer, as students shared ideas about how to avoid being jostled while moving through crowded areas. Students voiced concerns in a second session about their lunchtime experiences, seeking suggestions for more culturally responsive menu items and additional opportunities to participate in activities, use technology, or have access to quiet spaces to visit with friends.

Making learning more engaging was a third topic where students offered guidance to adults in attendance, causing teachers and staff to reflect on best practices for teaching and with more choice in how students can most effectively demonstrate their learning.

A fourth session analyzed the use of personal phones during the school day. Students discussed educationally appropriate uses of their phones, including apps which help them stay on top of their schoolwork, make it easier to collaborate on group projects, and allow the use of camera and video to show what they have learned.

“It is a credit to our teachers and administrators that they are willing to hear directly from students about how Tolt can be a better place to learn,” shares Mr. Klune. “The adults involved were surprised at how reasonable the students’ concerns and ideas have been. Their willingness to engage with the Tolt staff on difficult issues has set an important precedent for listening to students going forward.”

The Advisory Team developed a Consensus Action Item for each topic, identified the key players or individuals who can help enable change, and established dates and timelines for the proposals to be implemented. In addition, student suggestions were shared with the teaching staff during a recent Site Council and staff meeting, and discussions are underway about how to take advantage of the students’ ideas as staff work to make the middle school experience better for students.

The Tolt Inclusion Advisory Team will reconvene again after Spring Break to resume working towards potential implementation of the changes they would like to see within their school.


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