How Do Students Want to Learn?

Developing leaders from an early age.

Topics: Student Engagement

As we begin the new school year, Principal magazine turns its attention from coverage of perennial principal leadership topics—coaching and mentoring, leadership teams, professional development, etc.—to shine a light on student leadership.

Even our youngest learners benefit from developing their own voices and a sense of agency in co-constructing their own learning. “How often do we ask our students—the very people most affected by the resulting rules, policies, and procedures—how they want to live and learn together during the school year?” asks Katherina A. Payne in “When Kids Design Their Own Learning” (page 22). Fundamental to Payne’s prompt is that students are not merely recipients of learning; they can and should also be actively engaged in shaping their own experiences.

Throughout this issue, you will encounter examples demonstrating how to take a schoolwide approach to meaningful engagement that includes the key features Adam F.C. Fletcher outlines in his article, “Stepping Up Student Engagement”:

  • Understanding the big picture of the educational process;
  • Working together with adults as equitable partners; and
  • Learning through the process of involvement.

You will also read about 10 strategies to encourage students of all ages to practice their leadership skills. These easy-to-implement initiatives include projects that can be launched in individual classrooms, throughout the school building, and in the broader school community.

As you read this issue, remember that student leaders don’t emerge in isolation. Behind every young leader stands a network of educators, parents, peers, and community members who offer support, encouragement, and invaluable life lessons. Together, they forge an environment where passions can be nurtured, skills honed, and dreams realized.

Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D. is Editor-in-Chief of Principal magazine.