An eloquently written piece by Patrick Twagirayezu, a member of Cohort 4 for MSAC, prompted a variety of emotions to run through my brain all in the same moment. It was as if the characters from the movie Inside Out were playing tricks in my brain. Alas, it was not the case but certainly was entertaining to view my thoughts as such. I digress.
Far too often, we, as educators, rely on those students who show an amazing amount of what we consider leadership potential to drive change in the education system. Why? Because it is easy and almost effortless to work with students who already have a drive and passion for using their voice and presumably speaking on behalf of their student body. We this happen more often that we would like through the decisions we make to have students lead assemblies, class events, or even a runner to the office. We look to the students that we ‘trust’ because they exhibit the characters that we believe embody leadership. By doing as such, we are not only creating a divide in our classrooms and schools, we are marginalizing those voices who need to be heard the most.
Promoting student voice must extend beyond those whom we believe can speak on behalf of their classmates. Educators need to create equality and empathy within their classrooms so that everyone’s voice can comfortably be shared to create the best learning experience possible.
Patrick’s post, on the Student Voice Practitioner Blog, which I believe is a must read, says it best:
“being a student voice practitioner must, now more than ever, be focused on identifying these students that are disengaged and finding a way to bring them to the discussion table. Focusing on the archetypal student leader is certainly beneficial, but can have its restrictions. Though seemingly productive, it can perpetuate a homogeneous circle of ideas, which fail at attacking fundamental causes of student disengagement.”
As a promoter of student voice and essentially, a practitioner, I am committed to:
- creating a safe space for my students to be themselves
- cultivating a community where voices are heard and are valued
- fostering a joy of learning so that student passions shine through
- making every day a new starting point for the dreams and aspirations each student has
- to be alert to the voices I may not hear often enough because often, those are the voices I, and others, need to hear the most.