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Elevating the Voices of Young People and Children

Invitation:

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is seeking the wisdom of students so that state leaders may learn from their experiences, imaginations, courage, and hopes to inform planning for the future of Oregon, the world’s nations and the planet. We believe that by listening to the voices of children and young people we can transform what we are learning - as we face the challenges of COVID-19 - into a new vision for the future.




This page will be updated throughout the summer to highlight submissions from students around the state.
Please send any questions that you may have to the Elevating Voices team.

The student responses on this page are opinion and do not necessarily represent The Oregon Department of Education’s guidance or recommendations.



  • My Favorite Part of distance learning?: 
    Working at any time from home while relaxing in pajamas and spending extra time with family. Getting extra play time because there was not as much work to do as expected in the classroom. Loved seeing homeroom teacher through the videos, since they could not see them in person.  It was a safe alternative during the pandemic.​

    How it Feels Different?:
    Many students did not like it and would rather be in the classroom because they could not see their teachers and classmates, which made them sad. Had to work on a device instead of hands on activities like at school, so thought it was boring. Could not interact with teachers during lessons to answer or get feedback. Not a good alternative for some households.
    ​Hermiston Elementary School
  • Oakridge Junior Senior High students hope Oregon’s decision-makers, and our district’s decision makers, will take into account these ideas they’ve shared with me.  Students miss in-person learning. They miss having a teacher address their questionsand guide them.They miss group projects, class discussions, games, and activities that require movement. They even miss teacher presence for improved accountability and less procrastination. One Junior says she could manage her workload better if there were a teacher walking around the room, or if she knew she would be in a classroom at least once a week. Students were 100% in agreement that they learn more with on-campus school. Some advocated for “regular” school, but others said a mixed approach, with some distance learning and some on-campus time, would be best. Many students want to keep the freedom and flexibility of distance learning, yet also add in-person interaction with teachers. When asked about instruction, they felt it could be done in-person or on Google Meet; some prefer it also be videotaped to be able to rewatch. When asked about doing their actual assignments, all said in-person interaction is essential. Two students mentioned that distance learning gives them time to pursue personal interests. Others said they like seeing each others’ pets and siblings. All like working at their own pace.These things can also be “cons” for some students.  A seventh-grader said that siblings can make it difficult to focus. We have, in fact, seen examples of this! Some find the open schedule leads to procrastination. And one mentioned that, while some homes are safe and comfortable, others are chaotic and tense. The aforementioned Junior also wants it known that most teenagers have switched to later sleep cycles. She hopes that future decisions about school schedules will take this into account and start later. She pointed out that distance learning positively affects the planet. Distance learning provides students with flexibility, families with time together, and the planet with less pollution. Some families are saving money by commuting less as well. Other downsides to online learning are lack of internet or bad connections.These were not problems these students were having, but problems they imagined others might have. As far as packet work and online assignments, students had mixed views. One seventh-grader was pleased he could work ahead, while another appreciated not being rushed.The self-paced aspects that are part of our current distance learning were a pro for most, although some found self managing and motivating difficult. Students would like teachers to offer clear schedules for their packets (days and amounts of time needed). The aforementioned Junior suggested help with daily planning as well. (Do your science after breakfast, etc.)Students also would like engaging work and extracurricular fun. As much as is possible, they want work applicable to their real lives, interdisciplinary work, and/or choices.They would also like it to not take too long. Students would like schools to try to keep students connecting and having fun in as many modalities as possible. She misses the many social aspects of in-person school, like sporting events, dress-up days, sitting together at lunch, and school dances. The Oakridge Junior Senior High School students feel a combination of in-person and distance learning could work well next year. All agreed that no matter what, they need time with teachers. In-person classroom time is unanimously their first choice. They would like distance learning to be more focused on instruction, and in-person learning to be more focused on application (flipped classrooms). They want fun activities to still be a part of school on campus and online. They value their education and I’m so grateful to be working with such thoughtful, helpful students. Oakridge Junior Senior High School
  • We believe that we as a community need to be more aware of racial injustice. In order to see a change, we need to use our voices to be heard, not to stay silent. In order to combat these injustices, Oregon must close the gap in racial and economic inequalities. To start, officials in Oregon must be aware of prejudice in police brutality and change the policy so they are not centered around violence. We learned from a young age that violence is never the answer. So why do the police resort to it? Police are trained to shoot a gun, but not to deescalate a situation. We also believe that everyone needs the necessities to survive. Oregon must find a way to bring true equality of opportunity into action for everyone, no matter your skin color. Officials must give struggling families who have been trapped in poverty due to systemic racism, the proper chances to escape it. We need change. ​Westview High School

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