What we listen to, when we listen to our students

This year, I have been mentoring an amazing student teacher named Amy. Amy is months away from a brand new adventure in a brand new classroom.  My final (or only) words of wisdom for Amy are these:

Empower your students to advise your practice.

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In any educator’s career, a lot of time and money will be spent on professional development.  Teachers travel far and wide, they research and read, they seek out teacher-mentors.  When we talk about professional development, we must also talk about giving agency to our students. Students give incredibly authentic, powerful, and heart-felt golden nuggets of insight.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

As part of my farewell-ing to Amy, I’ve asked our grade 9 students to blog about the various things they wish teachers were more mindful of.  Here is a quick run down of what they had to say:

“I wish my teacher would take us outside when the weather is good and we could experience learning in a different environment”

“We don’t need elaborate presentations and speeches and 10 guides on how to learn. We’ll be happy if you stand up and talk to us because if you care about your topic and show it, we’ll manage to care.”

“I wish my teacher knew how much I have learnt this year.”

“Everybody IS DIFFERENT

“I think my ideal teacher would have patience as it would allow the student to work at his own pace and not have to worry about being behind the rest of the class”

“I wish my teacher knew that for students nothing is simple and has to be repeated several times for us to understand.”

“I wish that my teacher knew that a class is about more than just teaching but it’s about building up a good relationship with the students.”

“Let students form groups by themselves and let them discuss about the topic.”

” In an ideal world teachers have to be willing to hear you out or not assume what they think that they saw is the correct thing. For example when a teacher looks around and you are talking to someone, it doesn’t automatically mean that they are just talking about something pointless but it could be something simple.”

“Understand that students learn differently and that the teacher could experiment with that during their lessons and make sure their students understand what they are learning, so they do better in class.”

“Teachers shape school and without them we would be lost in our academic lives so I hope they know that they make such a big impact on us in school”

“we can always also be:

  • Focused
  • Excited
  • Energized
  • Contributing
  • Enthusiastic”

“I think a class should be creative and the students should get a chance to speak and interact as well. ”

“I wish my teacher knew that they can join in conversations students are having, and there doesn’t have to be a wall between ‘Teacher Talk’ and ‘Student Talk’. ”

“I know that teachers might not know the work that we have, but it’s also nice to know that teachers will care to listen to us and hear what we have to say as well, because sometimes (just sometimes) students like to be honest with teachers and actually tell the truth even when what they say might sound like excuses, they just might not be.”

“I am thankful to my teachers because they are the ones that are shaping my future and helping me explore different areas of the world.”

“Students understand how much work teachers do, and trust me, behind your back good teachers are acknowledged for all of the time they have put in to make all their own material for us to learn with.”

Best of luck to you, Amy!  Thank you grade 9 bloggers for your open-minded, risk-taking blogposts.

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