10 Questions to Hearing Student VOICE

Have you ever been in a conversation in which you really felt heard? People listened to your opinion, asked questions, and validated your response. They made agreement statements, and asked clarifying questions, and maybe even complimented you on your perspective or knowledge. How did that make you feel?

I love this situation. Especially when when I’m having a conversation about something I’m passionate about. For me, when someone is listening to my input, it is probably one of the biggest motivators and validators to dig in deeper and keep the work going. Having a conversation like that leaves me feeling energized (and as a classic introvert, most conversations do not energize me) and inspired. It makes me feel like I can really take ownership of my thoughts and opinions, especially the conclusions I’ve learned through my own research and experience.

How does it make you feel?

Now lets swing to other end of the pendulum. Have you ever been in a conversation where you’ve not been heard? Where you ideas or opinions were dismissed or shut down quickly. Where you felt like you couldn’t get a word in. Where you were not valued. Where maybe you were even laughed at or put down for your thoughts, or maybe even worse – completely ignored.

How did this make you feel? For most of us, this is a dream killer. The message that we receive through these situations can cut us down to the core – it can make us feel small, inadequate, and unimportant. It can make us question ourselves, and our own competence. It can make us lose trust in our thoughts and opinions.

What if you felt like this daily?

You’d probably want to run as fast as you could out of that situation. I’ve left a job before because of it. But what if you couldn’t? What if you had to stay in that situation and put up with being ignored or dismissed? You’d probably get angry. You’d probably shut down. You’d probably think, “What’s the point of putting work or thought into this? No one cares. It’s not going to be good enough anyways.”

Unfortunately, many of our students face this day after day. And many of us are to blame for it. Ouch. I know that hurts. This was a tough realization for me too. While I believe that no one reading this purposely chooses some kids over others, it happens.

You make more decisions in a single day than any other profession. Your brain is going 1000 mph – so because of that, sometimes we go into auto-pilot. When that happens, our “implicit biases” come through, and inequity can creep up in our own classroom without us even meaning for it to happen.

The education system is not built for every kid. We know that. But your classroom – whether virtual or face-to-face – can be, and the #1 thing you can do to remove this inequity is give every kid a voice, and give them opportunities to share their voice in whatever means works for them – speaking, writing, drawing, musically, in video, through acting, or debate. So many options.

And here’s a secret – you want students to share their voice? Ask them questions. And not just recall questions about the content, but questions that allow them to share what’s going on in that beautiful mind of theirs.

How are you going to give your students voice? Here are 10 questions to consider asking:

  1. If you could learn any skill in the world, what would it be and why?
  2. If you could learn a new language, what it be and why?
  3. If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be and why?
  4. If you could spend a day with anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
  5. Describe your perfect day.
  6. If you could be doing anything in 10 years, what would it be? How does that compare to where you actually see yourself in yourself in 10 years.
  7. What is one thing you would like to do that no one else in your family has done.
  8. What is the hardest part about coming to school each day/doing school virtually each day?
  9. What is one thing you would like your teachers to know about you?
  10. What is one thing you would like your administrators to know about you?

We’ve had many questions about what culturally responsive teaching looks like virtually. It’s not easy, I can tell you that. But it’s going to start with the same foundation as face-to-face. Build an alliance with your students. Be on the same team. Shoot for the same goals. Let your students use their voice.

August 3rd, our new 90-minute course will be available: Cultural Competency in the Classroom: Next Steps on this Journey Together. It’s a great resource for overcoming the communication barrier across cultures that causes so much miscommunication and unneeded conflict!

Click here for information on our Summer Campaign – including this brand new training!

Email us at info@pressing-onward.org with your thoughts, or comment on the social media platform where you are reading this blog.  We want to know, and we appreciate your input!

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