Isn’t This What Student Voice is All About?

All across the country students in middle and high schools are having the same conversation: should we walk out?  They are asking the question of each other and starting to ask their teachers.  As a teacher there are some caveats, we are always told we should remain politically neutral.  Whether you believe that or not is a wholly separate discussion.  What does matter is how we respond to students who are asking these questions.

I hear people all over the world talk about how much they value Student Voice.  So many in education have followed the trend to embrace student voice.  So when your school has a walk out, when your kids start to stand up for something and actually use that voice to make a difference, what then?  You don’t even have to agree with their position, only support their ability to use their voice to make a difference.  I have heard of schools that have threatened students who plan on walking out as a means of protest.  I have heard of schools instructing teachers to barricade the doors.  How can we say we support student voice if we don’t actually allow them to use their voice?

Our school just had an incredible assembly that chronicled the lives and actions of young people during the Civil Rights Movement through images, stories, and songs.  It focused on how so many of the people involved in protests, marches, and speaking out were young people.  Many of the most important moments that took place during the movement did so with the help of students.  Their voices mattered. They stood for their beliefs, knew the consequences of their actions, and persisted anyway.  The assembly was created to remind our students that they have power in their voice.

Student voice isn’t about the ability to pick between using Google Slides and using a 3D design.  It also isn’t just about making school lunches better. I tell my kids when they start the year that I want them to make a difference in the world.  I tell them that they matter.  So what do I do? What do I say? If I don’t support them then how do I pretend to support student voice? I will undoubtedly be joined by countless other teachers over the next few months in making a choice.  While many schools will support student voice, many will try to suppress it.  What we do then will be telling.  I only hope to be able to live up to my own words and help my kids learn how to use their voice for good.

Here is a link from the ACLU to help your students learn what consequences their actions may have if they choose to walk out.

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The Road Goes Ever On

For almost four years I have maintained this space as a place for me to share my reflections, ideas, thoughts, and recommendations on all things in education and beyond.  I have found incredible value in using the space to think through and begin to understand all that I have seen in my career.  This space has been good to me, and for a while, I was good to it.

Over the past year or so I have moved away from blogging. In part, because of the various other projects, I have been building upon, but in part, because I wasn’t sure what else to say.  After having written somewhere between 400-500 blog posts it almost seemed like I may never feel moved to write this blog again.  But I have found a renewed vigor and passion for this space.

Over the past six months, I have been pouring my soul into a new project. The Teacher’s Journey.  In it’s most simplistic form it is a book about life, learning, and helping others.  To me, however, it is so much more than that.  It is the romance I have with education and where I see myself in it now.  It is no longer enough to just be great in my classroom, I only get to teach so many kids in my career after all.

The Teacher’s Journey, the book, the podcast, and now this blog will be devoted to helping teachers recognize who they are, what they need to thrive, and how we can all give that back to others.  This is just the beginning. The calm road that leads from home.  Though we all may view the paths we walk in different ways, none of us should have to walk them alone.  I look forward to sharing this incredible journey with any and all of you that care to share the road.  You will be able to follow along with the entire Teacher’s Journey at http:www.theteachersjourney.net 

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