Active student engagement in learning, civic participation, service to others and leadership roles requires the development of knowledge, skills and character attributes.
As we embark upon this expansive project, how will we know if we are headed in the intended direction? How can we tell if our efforts are bearing fruit? What does youth empowerment look like, sound like and feel like? What becomes of a classroom or a school in which character development is the result of students’ agency?
To answer these questions, we need to observe all facets of school life, such as: relationships and interactions among students, and between adults and young people; classroom and school culture and atmosphere; and extracurricular activities.
In this section, we present a few examples of indicators of youth empowerment we may observe in our school. While we have separated them into categories for ease of discussion, in reality, these aspects of youth empowerment are fully interdependent and interconnected.
Youth empowerment is important because as educators we want students to realize their potential. So the focus needs to be on students. The greatest part of students being able to show what they’ve learned, to show what they’re carrying with them, what the benefit of all of our teaching has been is when they can voice back what it is they need, what it is they want, how they’re going to act. Student voice is the ultimate gauge of our success as educators.