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Student Voice Matters

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Be sure to read through all of the PS news at the bottom!

Dear Dr. Laura,

At my new school everyone is talking about student voice. I’m lost! What does this mean to me in the library?


The Librarian Voice

Hi, Librarian Voice!

Librarians definitely have a voice of influence in the school and you can play a key role in helping to develop and showcase student voice. But, let’s get down to the basics.

What is “student voice”?

I love how The Glossary of Education Reform defines student voice. The opening paragraph is pretty powerful. “In education, student voice refers to the values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students in a school, and to instructional approaches and techniques that are based on student choices, interests, passions, and ambitions.”

Librarians and Student Voice

As an educator I bet you already believe in the first part of the definition - “the values, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students in a school”.

But, now as a new librarian you need to figure out the second part of that definition. How do you as a librarian use “instructional approaches and techniques that are based on student choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”?

Let’s take a look at our AASL National School Library Standards. We have 6 shared foundations: Include, Inquire, Collaborate, Curate, Engage, and Explore. (Notice we can create an acronym from the first letters of each word. ICE. A little trick to help you remember the 6 foundation names.) Also, remember that each one of these foundations can be viewed or thought of from 3 different perspectives: the learner, the librarian, and the library program.

When I think about the role of school librarians and our AASL National School Library Standards, 2 of the foundations really stand out to me: Include and Collaborate. So let’s take a closer look and think about them in relation to student voice.


As librarians we are to have an “understanding of and commitment to inclusiveness and respect for diversity”. Part of your job will be to ensure that you have resources, programs, and services that address as many points of view as possible. This will allow your students to be exposed to new things they might not have come into contact with on their own. Create an environment that welcomes and cultivates discussions from groups with different viewpoints: anywhere along the continuum from conversation to debate. 1. Collection development

- Support your district/state curriculum

- Survey your students for their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions” of reading and audio material, print vs digital, etc.

2. Video conferencing with people (guest speakers/authors/other classrooms) from across the world to allow your learners to interact with others who will share about their lives, passions, and endeavors

- Support your district/state curriculum

- Who are your students eager to meet and interact with? Survey your students for their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”. You might be surprised at the yes replies to people you invite to connect - even the rich and famous!

3. Develop lessons that showcase your learners expressing their own unique viewpoint

- Support your district/state curriculum

- Sometimes lessons are “just because” lessons. They may not be a true content item, but based on your students needs/requests for their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”.


As a librarian we must collaborate with the entire school ecosystem, including students, educators, parents, community, etc. It is up to us to create an environment that promotes collaborative learning opportunities. Along the way, you'll weave in information literacy skills to help build students' information-seeking best practices. Our students will learn to collaborate and consequently broaden their ideas and increase their ability to see and understand other’s differing points of view.

1. Create opportunities for group work or project based learning that includes diverse viewpoints. Students should feel comfortable to express their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”.

2. Build students’ awareness and use of a variety of communication tools/resources. Students can use these tools to express their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”.

3. Find ways to get all students to voice their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”.

So what are some tools you can use to help make this easier?

1. You can use Google to create surveys where students can share their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”.

2. You can use an online video conferencing tool like Google Hangout, Skype, or Zoom to bring the world to your students.

3. Google Drive and Microsoft Office have collaboration tools many districts use. See which one your district supports.

4. Can you capture video, vlogs, or podcasts of your students showcasing their “choices, interests, passions, and ambitions”? This recent article from TCEA’s technotes offers many ideas.

So, Librarian Voice, just know that you as the librarian have the fantastic opportunity to play a vital role in helping students know that their expertise, opinions and ideas are valued in all aspects of school life and beyond.

Want to see some kids who have taken their voice to the max? Get some inspiration here and check out:

- LivBits (Olivia Van Ledtje):

I wish you all the best! Dr. Laura

Librarian Influencers of the Week: Olivia Van Ledtje

website - @thelivbits

By the way, last month Olivia was awarded the Princess Diana Award as the creator of LivBits who inspires kids and teachers about reading. Olivia may not have our formal training, but she is definitely a librarian at heart!


Be sure to check out any digital tool you use with the students for COPPA and FERPA compliance. Your school/district should take care of CIPA compliance in what your students are able to get access to online.


My first podcast will release Monday morning at 7 AM CST. Look for Librarian Influencers on your favorite podcast platform. You can also listen to it on my webpage. Wenndy Pray from Sharyland ISD is my first interviewee!

Help me spread the word! Open the link for more information about the contest I’m sponsoring to celebrate the inaugural podcast release!

Wenndy Pray
Wenndy Pray is the first librarian to be interviewed on the Librarian Influencers podcast.

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