Sunday, November 20, 2011

Student Voice

Learning from children’s voices allows us to know
a deeper level of who children are as learners
 and, because we have that knowledge,
to expand and enrich our sense
of what it means to teach.
- Penny Oldfather (1995)

Do you listen to your students?  Do you hear their desires for learning?  Do you know what inspires them?  What are their personal goals? Are you aware of what THEY would like to learn today? Are your plans based on your curriculum map or chapter guidelines, or are they based on the individual needs sitting before you? Have you asked your students to reflect on your growth?

At the end of last year, I opened the floor to my third graders (whom I had been teaching for 2 years) and asked for the honest truth... How had I grown as a teacher?  What did they notice was different from one year to the next?  Well, it's as if I opened a can of worms!  I couldn't type as fast as their ideas were spilling out.... One of my spunkiest student's remark truly changed my mindset, though, as I was still wondering at that point if I had reached him after 2 long years. However, I am so glad I had asked to hear his voice, because in that moment I KNEW I had.  He stated, "You let us learn by our Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles this year, and last year we really didn’t get a lot of learning done because we didn’t know and use Metacognition.  This year you changed a lot and you made us grow more than we did last year. Oh, and I like how you taught us so much so we are able to teach teachers and YOU, because we teach you too!"  And these were his words, verbatim, and trust me I remember because he made sure I typed it correctly during that moment, a moment I will remember forever.  The moment when I let them provide me feedback.  My only regret was that I hadn't asked sooner... 

I wonder what would happen if you asked these questions to your students?  What if you asked them to provide you feedback?  Would it change the course of their learning path? Would it change yours?


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