Students, safety and sharing
We can’t engage our students if we don’t let them teach us who they are and what they value in their own words. Often we can bring our own societal perspectives and preconceptions into the classroom. Strong student voice can lead the way to better relationships and better education.
What do you think of immediately when you hear the name of my home, “Chicago”? Michael Jordan and Al Capone? Pizza and Chiraq?
The visible violence in our communities often grabs the spotlight as it robs us of so many wonderful people and robs so many Chicagoans, especially youth, of their lives. It is vitally important to acknowledge this violence and address it, yet too often the mainstream narrative focuses on young people’s deaths and never remembers to honor their lives.
In the midst of this media frenzy on the violence, young people are courageously making their own voices heard. On Saturday, the youth from Urban Gateways held their annual film screening. Urban Gateways is a program for high need Chicago youth to study social issues and technical filming techniques to create their own films. How do you feel watching the world through their eyes?
Michael Coleman shows his love for our Southwest side neighborhood here.
In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, a group of fifth graders published an opinion column “This is Us” that lovingly critiques the hurtful stereotypes that they face in the media while shining with love for their neighborhood and community. “This isn’t Chi-raq. This is home.” They conclude.
Finally, youth—including several of my own students—gathered from around Chicago at Roosevelt University to share their personal stories of brutality at the hands of the police. The stories they shared are heartbreaking, but the voicing of that experience can help change the culture of police violence and improve things for others.
Through these three examples, you can see three ways that I support the growth of student voice in my own classroom. First, the development of their own voices through visual arts. Second, the development of writing skills to tell their own stories. And finally, the courage and preparation to present their perspectives in a public forum.
What are your reflections on these students’ work?
What strategies do you use in your own classroom to nourish student voice?
What specific ways have your students used their voices to impact your shared community?
What support would you like to help you develop a safe and vibrant space for student voices?
Please take a couple of minutes to share your answers to these questions or other questions and insights you have around student voice via the comments section below or by emailing me directly at email@example.com.