A great book for professional reading--here's my review!
The book Riding Shotgun addresses the topic of student-led change within a school. The authors, Christine Simpson and Sarah Ambrus, provide anecdotal experiences as well as tools to facilitate implementation of change.
“Students are the drivers of change, but there has to be a passenger riding shotgun: you, the educator.” (page 5) . Students can be empowered to provide real world solutions to the problems, resulting in changes that go far beyond the typical “band aid” approach taken by most schools. But school officials can’t just expect students to know how to move from the “Brain Hurricane” of initial ideas to a focused workable solution without a good deal of guidance.
Each chapter is designed to help administrators navigate the fine line between providing guidance for students and dominating the entire process, providing the framework needed to guide students from the initial steps to forming solutions, acting on those ideas and then studying the results to see where further improvements can be made. Each step is illustrated by examples of the process in action at a pilot school where the students focused on the problem of bullying.
Additional chapters discuss the long term effects of the student driven changes, the positive impacts on the learning environment of the school and the leadership opportunities offered to the students involved in the change process. Again, anecdotal evidence, combined with specific tools used, offers guidance for administrators who wish to involve students in a similar process.
Student comments are included at the end of every chapter in the book. These insights, from the very people affected by the program, show the true power of student-led change.
We hear so many negative stories these days about teens in our society. This book, however, leaves the reader filled with a profound sense of optimism and faith in our students. As one student said, “There are so many ideas out there waiting to be heard, just waiting to be given a voice.” (pg. 46) This book provides the adults in a school the means to give students that voice.