Student generated school policies/rules

Prototyping a process to involve students in creating school policies/rules

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As a teacher of 7+ years, it is clear that students have strong opinions about rules and policies that are enforced at schools, from the dress code and recess rules to cell phone use. Generally, students exhibit a strong dislike of and reaction to rules and policies since they are not given the opportunity to provide input. Thus came the idea of some way that students could be part of the process as co-creators and not solely obeyers of rules/policies.

During a rapid prototyping session, I came up with a rough process (see image) to build rules and policies with students' input. 

Step 1: Choose topic area, build committee, and build understanding 

 Choose a particular "heated" issue on campus and gather a small committee of students and faculty to share their stories about the policy/rule and how it impacts their day to day. This is the EMPATHY phase.

Step 2:   Identify problem and unmet need

Both students and faculty jointly identify the problem/unmet need.

Step 3: Brainstorm possible ideas to address the problem

Both students and faculty jointly brainstorm ideas that could solve the problem/unmet need. 

Step 4: Create draft policy

Both students and faculty draft a policy that they will present to the administration

Step 5: Review, update, and present updated policy   

The administration reviews the policy, makes necessary changes, and presents updated policy to the committee, explaining the "why" behind any changes made

Step 6: Final policy/rule is posted in area and/or published in handbook

Let me know if you have any other additions/suggestions for this process. I think it has the power to empower students as part of the solution instead of part of the problem.


Share insights you heard during your empathy work. Which empathy activities did you engage with? How did these activities impact your idea?

Empathy led me directly to this idea. When I enforced a rule around students, they explained why they thought it was unfair. I thought: "How often do we step back and hear how the students feel about policies/rules?" And "How can students know what the faculty experience is of enforcing rules?" Maybe bringing both groups together could lead to better understanding of each other's experience and a better rule/policy.

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