Over the past several days I’ve been observing my students closely. More specifically, I’ve been listening to the mean things they say to each other. I wrote all these things done. Things like: “I hate you” (several times), “You’re a girl,” “That’s a gay message,” “You’re retarded,” “You’re unattractive and noisy.” All things that were said between friends.
I gathered my students in the pod and distributed these messages around the circle. They were shocked. We broke these messages down. We discussed how when we use words like this we aren’t just insulting the person who the message is directed to, but we’re also insulting populations of people. They were moved. They came up with their own action to try and curb their speech habits. YES!
Ideas about a student's constitutional rights in school
In my school, we sign a book that is a “rights and responsibilities” form that lays out exactly what we are allowed to say, do, and wear. Many students in this school do not read this book, as it is rather boring and has the same information every year. The parents also have to sign the form by saying,”I have read and agree with this handbook.” If you look closely into this handbook, it pretty much says,”I give up all of my rights, and I am only allowed to contradict the school if I do XYZ.” One time, a girl in my school did not agree with the school dress code, and she decided to have all of the girls break it for one day after the dean of students did not budge. She was suspended because of breaking the rights and responsibilities handbook. Now why do kids sign this form? Because if we don’t, then we can’t go to school, and we are required to go to school until the 8th grade. Now, I understand that the school needs some control over the students to stop from civil unrest, but I would like freedom of speech without worrying about a suspension.
Signing off of a rant,
“The thing here is that no one hears students, especially the ones like Jeff (Bliss) (or me), who are far off course toward graduation, when it comes to classroom satisfaction. There seems to be this shift in attitude that sponsors the idea that we should just be thankful to still have a chance at a high school diploma. I think it is that shift that is entirely disrespectful and I can hear the teacher perpetuating it in her response. However, the moment when students like Jeff (or me) stand up to this, it is disrespectful toward authority and disruptive...even though the entire climate itself is disruptive and disrespectful”—Jabreel M Chisley Reflecting on Jeff Bliss video
On 'Student Voice':
There’s been a side-convo backlash against #education the last few days. About the teachers on #education not listening to student voices and being exclusive against student bloggers. Have you noticed?
I’ve started searching out a few students and trying to open a dialogue, because honestly, I remember what it felt like on the outskirts of the #education community and truly how exclusive it can feel. Sometimes you just need someone to reach out and I don’t mind being that person.
However, I also know how wonderful and including #education feels now. I know how much strength, encouragement this community gives me on bad days and how much pride I take in being a part of it. I can understand these students wanting to be included too.
That said, a message to students that want to join into the conversation: your anger toward us is unjustified. In most cases, it seems (to me) to be a projection of the feelings you have toward the teachers in your own lives. You are entitled to your anger. I can even understand it. But you are not entitled to be rude and lash out toward people you don’t know. You need to understand that this community is an established network of caring teachers and friends that you are asking to be a part of — and you haven’t been asking nicely.
If you want to join this conversation, if you want to be treated like adults, you need to take responsibility for your own words and understand that [just like the real world] when you insult people you’ve just met — or insult the community they take pride in — whether you feel you are justified or not, they probably aren’t going to want to play nice with you either. I certainly wouldn’t.
I think students like swallowtailskies, fluorescentink, imsoappalled, and
lizabethdavid (edit: link removed for reasons) have something to say and worth listening to. I think it’s important to consider what their anger and vitriol are directed toward and, just like in our classrooms, it’s usually not about us. I think teenagers need some guidance here to join the #education discussion, the same way we guide students on appropriate discourse in our classrooms.
Is this our job? No. But #education is our passion, something we take pride in and time out of our day to contribute to. It’s worth the time to think about it.
"Children...derive great joy from the serious pursuit of understanding."
Today my faculty advisor and I had a really nice discussion about how so often our colleagues underestimate the capabilities of our students. During my presentation of my inquiry, “Defining hierarchies: Assessing the role of the teacher-student hierarchy within the elementary classroom”, many of my classmates expressed interest in my idea, but then promptly declared that it was too much to expect of primary students. Even after I had told them that research has shown that students in grades 1/2 are capable of making decisions about their learning experience.
This has left me dumbfounded. It is as though we don’t believe that people have personalities, have likes and dislikes, have opinions, until they reach a certain age. This is completely false. I have seen it in the children that I interact with, children at the age of 4, 5 and 6 can tell me what they like, how they would like things to change. They are people too.
I only wish that we would give more opportunities to the children in our charge. Opportunities to truly explore their ideas and interests. They have all had experiences, and it is our job to respond to these, not brush them aside.
Cooperative Catalyst ACTIVE CONVERSATIONS
- Grades Limit My Learning (Guest Post by Student Justin Strudler)
- Homework: Help or Hassle?
- My Inner Pollyanna’s Ed Reform Blue Sky
- Ten Reasons to Abolish Homework (And Five Alternatives)
- Caution: Work in Progress
- Enslaved to the Enslaved by the Enslaving.
- Living with Pirates on Your Ship…and getting back to the teaching.
- What Factors Influence Educational Systems?
- Teaching: The Most Noble Profession
- What Students Actually Want in Their School
Do adults speak too much and listen too little...?
This evening I had the great pleasure of attending a community meeting put on by the External Advisory Committee in Boston. This committee is tasked with vetting proposals developed by Boston Public Schools that will change the current Boston Public Schools school reassignment plan. The participation by interested stakeholders, parents, elected officials, advocacy organizations, teachers etc. was in a word; incredible. However, it was very clear that the most important constituency was absent from the room, and I would venture to guess largely absent from the conversation.
That constituency is the students of Boston Public Schools.
Sure, there was the lone student member of the dozen or more members that make up the External Advisory Panel, but where were the rest of the students.
It seemed odd, (and I am by no means pointing fingers since as an education advocate I am as guilty as the next well intentioned adult) to be in a room with others advocating for access, equity, diversity and quality without having students in the room who could speak directly to how a lack of these things impact their educational experience.
About the great lengths they are willing to travel by bus and train to get to schools outside of their neighborhoods just for the chance at a better future.
About how it makes them feel to know that going to a school in their present neighborhood could potentially make them feel trapped.
There were no students to speak about the unfairness of the lack of robust curriculum choices in some of their schools.
There were no youth to speak about a fear of a dream deferred not by them but by circumstances.
No voices of the students who don’t win the lottery to attend the charter school.
Or the voices of the students in neighborhoods that once housed schools but no longer do because adults decided that the school had to go.
I thought about all of these things as I sat there and then I thought about how we hope to change that.
Not by me attending meetings and advocating for youth but by giving youth a platform to advocate for themselves, by aggregating EVERY single piece of media, written or otherwise generated by youth in an effort to amplify their voices so loud that the reverberations are felt in EVERY school, district, neighborhood, and community center in the country (at first) and then the world.
What we are imagining is on a scale that is scary to imagine working on.
To pull it off we no doubt will need help from youth, schools, universities, media companies etc.
We will need buy in from everyone to create a space that has yet to be created.
Its frightening to think about the possibility of failing in this endeavor but it is incredibly exciting to think about succeeding.
We could write a thesis on all of the things we hope OutTmob will impact, civic engagement, literacy, a more well informed populace, leadership etc.
But after a VERY LONG brain storm session we made it really simple to understand what we want to our space to represent.
We hope that you will join us and our band of rebel scholars.
Stalling Mechanisms and Student Power?
“Um” is popular stalling mechanism that is employed by speakers who, for some reason, need to pause their message delivery and simultaneously hold the floor while speaking.
Generally, the overuse of the word “um” is frowned upon, especially in public speaking, because it signals a lack of preparation and articulation ability.
Over the past few months, however, I have noticed a very particular “um” which seems to occur in a very select group of people: students who want power. What’s most intriguing is that this “um” always sounds the same, no matter who’s mouth it is coming from, and I’ve noticed that I’ve started doing it myself, despite a year of English class that really hindered my use of “um.”
This is interesting….if you’re organizer, or just a person who hangs out with a lot of organizers, see if you notice this. You’ll know what I’m talking about.
What does Learner Voice mean to you?
Learner voice means having a say and taking ownership of my education. It means being encouraged to share my voice, opinions and ideas, and have them heard by my educators. It is the most important thing I own in my education and is the opportunity to express my opinions and ideas through both love and passion. Learner Voice is what ensures I have the best education I possibly can. Learner voice is powerful, learner voice is beautiful and learner voice is important.
Why should Six Year Olds Have Digital Portfolios?
In this post at gettingsmart.com, the author makes a strong case for introducing young students to digital portfolios and even blogging. One of my favorite points in the post is where the author explains how giving students a digital place for their work and their thoughts creates a strong sense of community—which then “ripples” out, facilitated by the power of digital communication.
The first ripple in our circle of community is the circle of parents. Parents can watch their child’s blog and observe their child’s progress first hand. They don’t have to wait until our student-led conferences to see what and how their child has been learning. The growth is obvious for them to see.
The next ripple is the circle of the child’s extended family, friends and our local community. They, too can watch, encourage and interact. Often, this circle includes students who have been in my classroom in the past and who come back to our blog to comment and encourage the younger students.
The largest circle is—well—the entire world. We have received comments from many places including many states in the USA, classrooms across Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and New Zealand. And those are just this school year.
That is a very large community.
I believe that school is (or should be) about two things—student intellectual activity and relationships. By allowing students to share and communicate about their intellectual activity, we simultaneously allow them to build an ever-expanding community.
However, the author also points out that for many of her colleagues, “The way [they] have always done portfolios has worked well for them. Their students are learning the things they need to learn and are building a paper portfolio as they do so. Why do I take the extra time to upload those artifacts?” This is the challenge for Three Ring: How can we make a platform that makes it as quick and easy as possible for teachers to build digital
portfolios streams of student work and use them for authentic assessment. I hope you will let us know how we are doing.