OKTOY Blog: Giving Students a Voice

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Proctor and his studentFor me it has always been, and will always be about the students.

I was fortunate to spend the day discussing Oklahoma's testing climate with fellow educators, administrators, students, and various stakeholders at the OEA Testing Summit. Throughout the day it was clear that everyone's first and foremost concern was what was best for our students.

One of my favorite memories will be listening to a current student of mine confidently allow her voice to be heard. Throughout the day this young lady eloquently stated her thoughts to a room full of professionals, never once shying away from her true feelings or concerns. I learned much from her insight and am certain that many others in the room did as well. Which leads me to the question, why don't we consult our students more often?

Over the years, I have gotten better at making my classroom and team environment one that follows the  idea that "teaching/coaching is not something that I do to you, but something I do with you." Teaching/coaching is a partnership between the student and the teacher. It is common in my practice to ask my students and/or athletes, "What do you feel we need to do next to prepare you to do ___________."  

I have witnessed that when given the opportunity to express their needs they can learn to paint a much clearer picture, for me to then come along side them to assist. With my athletes I tell them, "it is your body, you need to learn to read it, and once you do, together we can come up with the perfect recipe for success." In my math classroom I have similar discussions and have learned that sometimes where I thought students were solid in their understanding they were actually uncertain and felt like they needed more. This art of asking the students to evaluate their current position has given them greater ownership of what we are doing as well as given me, as their guide, richer data to use in formulating a plan for forward progress.

As educators, part of our purpose should be to prepare our students to be independent. Thus, asking them their thoughts/opinions is a great learning tool to assist in their trek to independence. Watching my student  confidently be able to give her opinions when asked reminded me that we need to give our students more opportunities to practice that. More importantly, allowing them to participate in regards to their education allows them to feel like their voice does matter. If it is about the kids, then truly their voice does matter.





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Last updated on December 8, 2014