SpeakOut with Advocatr is a web-based tool that allows students to share with school adults what they like and dislike about their school’s climate. Students can submit posts celebrating someone’s positive behavior they perceived as helpful and supportive. Students can also submit posts expressing their concern about something they find worrisome. Students sign into SpeakOut with a username and password. Therefore, posts are not anonymous.

Students are introduced to SpeakOut through a 10-week curriculum. The curriculum engages students with concepts fundamental to making one’s voice heard. These concepts include trust, respect, honoring community agreements, communication, accountability, and conflict engagement. Once students are familiar with these concepts, they can gain access to SpeakOut to become active contributors to a positive school climate.

The curriculum consists of these 10 lessons:

  1. Setting Goals to Promote a Positive School Climate

  2. Communication

  3. Trust, Respect, and Agreements

  4. How to Gain Trust and How to Lose Trust

  5. Intent versus Impact & Suspending Judgment

  6. Accountability and Ownership

  7. Accountability for What? To Whom?

  8. Trust and Power

  9. Using SpeakOut with Advocatr

  10. Conflict Engagement

Each lesson consists of activities that engage students and teachers with the concepts fundamental to making one’s voice heard in a responsible and respectful manner.

Designated school personnel (e.g. assistant principal, counselor, teachers) read and respond to the posts submitted by students. They follow up with students as necessary to learn more about the student’s experience, how the student or others were impacted, students’ support needs, and what students and schools’ staff should do next.

Snitching means sharing information about someone for one’s personal gain or to get someone in trouble. Schools tend to have a strong anti-snitching culture where students who snitch are socially marginalized. This fear of being marginalized can silence students. We believe that celebrating positive behavior and expressing concern within a restorative approach to community building can break through this silence and promote necessary dialogue.

Social connectedness and a sense of belonging are important for academic success. Students who know that their voice is being heard are more likely to have positive relationships with their teachers and with their peers. SpeakOut is derived from social-emotional learning and intended to promote relationship building among students as well as students and school staff.

Similar to many state-wide tiplines, SpeakOut allows students to share information about concerns they might have. Unlike many state-wide tiplines, SpeakOut requires students to sign in with a username and password and allows students to celebrate positive behaviors they notice in their schools. While information submitted to state-wide tiplines is commonly processed by the state police, posts submitted through SpeakOut are read and responded to by school personnel only.

The teacher training modules prepare school staff to promote positive and trusting classroom and school communities. Training participants engage with the same core concepts presented in the Student Curriculum (e.g., trust, respect, honoring community agreements, communication, accountability, and conflict engagement). Training participants learn how to use restorative approaches to respond to students’ support needs.