A recent conversation with a colleague who teaches at the high school college created an interesting train of thought. My colleague and friend is no stranger to the idea of student voice but noted that “students need to be more educated on their voice before they are fully aware” of their voice’s impact (M. Szarka, Personal Communication, July 27, 2015).
So what does that mean then exactly, this educating students on using their voice bit. I certainly could not answer right away as for whatever reason the answer seamed clear to me but alas, not necessarily transferable into words. It also made me think that if my friend, who advocates for student voice and inquiry in his high school course, was asking this question, then so too are others. Then it hit me, a story I read not too long ago that held the answer, more or less.
The answer, to me, stems back to an example provided an article written by Kristine Fox wherein she tells the tale of a thirsty boy in JK. In her article, she notes the health concerns that come to mind with the boy’s thirst but is pleasantly surprised to know his issue of being thirsty at school has nothing to do with health issues. Instead, his issue of thirst stems from not being able to reach the water fountain! Kristine took the time to listen to this young child and consequently, was able to create a solution for the young boy, putting a step in front of the fountain for ease of access.
How does Kristine’s story connect to effective daily implementation of student voice and teaching students to use their voice? Everything.
By listening to students, we show them we care. By addressing their needs, we show them their concerns/ideas are valued. By implementing change fostered by their voice, we empower students to change makers in our world for the better.
So, how do you foster student voice in your classroom?