“But I don’t want a voice to the world…” he stands with a determined look on his face, expecting me to challenge his decision. “They don’t need to see what I write or what I have to say,” he continues, “It’s none of their business…” And with that, my students have once again challenged my assumptions and I need to change the way I teach. Again.
So what else have my students proved me wrong in, well quite a bit, but here are the biggest.
Not all students want a voice. From 4th to 7th grade I always have students that don’t want their private thoughts, work, or writing published to the world. Never assume that every child wants their work published or shared, ask first, we would expect the same thing if it were us.
Not all students want to make. I thought when I started doing more hands-on learning that all students would jump for joy, and while some certainly do, there are also students who go into absolute terrified mode when presented with anything abstract. Those kids need to fit into our innovative classrooms as well, so offer choices in how they learn, don’t just assume they want to create something from nothing or do their own version.
Not all students want choice. Some kids just want to be told what to do, not always, not on everything, but some kids need more structure or support through some things. If we only cater to the creative child who relishes freedom then we are not teaching all of the students in front of us.
Not all students want to change the world. While we may shout about empowered students and how they are going to change the world, not every child wants to change the world, they just want to be kids.
I have learned that while I may love to change the way education is done in classrooms around the world, I need to make sure I don’t disenfranchise students more by assuming they all want to learn like I do. So make room for all of the learners in your world, support them all as they grow, and don’t judge. Push them forward but be gentle in your approach and ask the students first.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.