Welcome to Episode 8 of Our Student Voice.
To view and interact with the introductory video, click on Start Here in the video screen.
As a Class Representative, you have now entered the world of Student Politics and Student Representation.
During the election process, you will have produced a manifesto setting out what you plan to do when elected.
Following your election, it is essential that - in implementing your manifesto - you now become a voice for all the students in your class.
As a first step, you will have informed your fellow classmates of who you are and how they can contact you.
You will hopefully have expressed to your classmates that you are open to listening to them, and that you recognise that people in the class have different life experiences and different requirements for support.
You will have explained that there are things that you can do and things that you are unable to do, but in all circumstances you will be able to advise your classmates, or seek advice on their behalf.
As a class representative in TU Dublin it is important that you:
Actively seek the views of your classmates: It is important that you don’t simply wait for your classmates to come to you. You should proactively seek their opinions and views.
Engage all classmates, recognising diversity: You will have classmates with different views, opinions and experiences. As a Class Representative, you should find and listen to all voices in the class, not just get the general opinion.
Listen with empathy and respect: Empathy relates to understanding others’ perspectives. Respect relates to giving due regard to their views. These are essential attributes of effective representation.
Don't expect all your classmates to always proactively contact you. Some people are comfortable with doing this, but others need to be reminded of the opportunities available to them to get your support or advice, as a Class Representative.
The advice in this episode will help you decide on how to actively engage with your classmates.
Provide your classmates with times and days of the week when they can easily meet with you. For example, after a particular lecture or class. It might be helpful to agree this with your Year Tutor, so that you can use the room in which a class is taking place for a little bit of time after the class has ended.
You might consider having class Coffee Mornings, where everyone in the class is invited to go to the canteen at the same time. Even if all your classmates don't attend, they will know that you will be there, and available to talk with them, at that time every week.
Not everyone in your class will wish to engage with you directly in person. You can provide your email address to your class so that your classmates can contact you in that way, if they prefer.
When you want to get the views of all of your class, you might consider the use of online software. For example, you can use your Office 365 account to set up an online feedback form or survey to get everyone's views.
You may hold class meetings on a number of occasions throughout the semester. Be sure to conduct these as professional meetings, with an agenda and minutes, and ensure that all students at the meeting ae given the opportunity to express a view if the wish to do so.
Most importantly, as their Class Representative, it is your responsibility to take the time to get to know your classmates. Remember, some classmates may not enjoy nights out or the same social activities as you, so don't rely solely on those types of activities to get to know your classmates.
TU Dublin strives to provide a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their background, lifestyle or preferences.
Recognising the diversity of our student population requires us, as a University, to ensure that all voices have an opportunity to be heard, regardless of the strength of the voice.
As a Class Representative, you can ensure that all voices are heard by:
- Ensuring that you fully understand the principles and practices of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, as discussed in Episode 3: Understanding the Practices of EDI.
- Avoiding assumptions that everyone in the class will want what you want.
- Avoiding assumptions that everyone in the class will want what the majority of the class want.
- Engaging directly with the people in your class to find out about their preferences.
- Not assuming that just because someone is speaking loudest or most often in a meeting, that they represent everyone's views.
- Using a range of methods, including online and in-person, to get feedback and input from your classmates.
- Ensuring that when you're providing feedback to your lecturers on behalf of your class, you reflect the diversity of views and don't simply state the majority view.
- Being careful with class votes. Remember that if you present three options to your class and the most popular option gets 40% of the votes, 60% of people voted against that option. Try to use methods to build consensus and reach compromise, as will be discussed in Episode 11: Working Effectively with Others.
As a Class Representative, you need to be able to listen to your classmates to get their views. You also need them to understand that your are listening.
Listening with empathy and respect requires that you develop the skill of active listening.
This doesn't require that you agree with the person or hold similar views. It does require that in listening, you make an effort to truly understand the other person's perspective.
With active listening, the other person is fully aware that you are listening to them. This is because you are using your body language to acknowledge their statements, you are seeking clarification when required, and summarising your own understanding of their views when you get an opportunity to do so.
With active listening, you are not interrupting the person who is speaking, but you are listening in silence until you get an opportunity to speak.
When you speak, your response is directly related to what they have been talking about, and is designed to help you better understand their views. You should not use your opportunity to speak as a way of changing subject, or delivering a lengthy speech that you've prepared while they were speaking to you. The focus needs to remain on them.
By doing this as a Class Representative, you will be well equipped to learn about, and then convey and represent, the voices of your classmates.
These learning activities are designed to help you develop the knowledge and skills required for this episode. These learning activities are also a requirement for the Active Class Representative, Curriculum Co-Designer, and Quality Assurance Expert Digital Badges.
Learning Activity 8.1. Engagement Plan
Considering all the advice provided in this episode, put together your plan for how you're going to engage with your class. Describe this plan in 1 page (or a 1-minute video).
If you're applying for a Digital Badge, include this (or a link to this) in your E-Portfolio.
Learning Activity 8.2. Polling Tool
Investigate the polling tools that are available online to conduct a vote among your classmates. Set up an online poll in the polling tool.
If you're applying for a Digital Badge, include a screenshot of this (or a link to this) in your E-Portfolio.