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[Weekly Inspiration] Making Student Voice A Top Priority

[Weekly Inspiration] Making Student Voice A Top Priority

Every year, the Milken Family Foundation recognizes the nation’s top educators with the Milken Educator Awards. EdWeek recently caught up with several winners of this award, asking them a single, very important question: how do you promote student voice in and outside of the classroom?

These teachers touched on a variety of topics – encouraging expression through technology, enabling topics that students value, and meeting every student where and how they are comfortable – but one theme seemed to ring true through every response: respect. These teachers have a great respect for their students, and that respect creates value in student expression.

There are too many responses to recount here, but I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes with you:

Leslie Sullivan, a high school social studies and history teacher in North Charleston, South Carolina talked about the purpose of student voice: "Student voice is supported when we encourage students to use their voice often, and not always with the purpose of assessment.” She also touched on how teaching relatable material helps her students draw concrete conclusions and express their opinions.

“Leveraging technology, specifically iPads, has allowed our scholars to share their voice to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create in innovative and authentic ways,” said- Johnnie Marshall, an assistant principal in Valdosta, Georgia. They integrate technology specifically to elevate the voices of their students.

But as a writer, my favorite quote comes from Steven Gamache, an 8th grade ELA teacher, curriculum manager, and coach in, New Orleans, Louisiana. He said, “First, we do a lot of writing, and I always frame it in a way that is based on your voice—you want to be able to get your point across, have people listen to and understand you, and sometimes even change their minds. If you can lay out an argument or another piece of writing in a logical, coherent way, people will be able to follow and consider what you are saying.”

Check out the full piece from EdWeek here, including other great quotes and stories from teachers around the nation!