December 6, 2021
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
Last week I wrote about how the children in our lives listen to us, and about the joys and responsibilities that accompany that reality. This past Thursday night, I, along with several million other viewers, had the great pleasure of watching the amazing New York Times bestselling YA author Jason Reynolds appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Reynolds, a DC-native who is also the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, spoke beautifully about what he has learned from kids, including what compassion and empathy look like. He called out our tendency as adults to dismiss the words and feelings of children while reminding us what we can learn when we engage with children from a place of humility. He explained that, in his writing, he seeks to make sure children, especially Black children, know that they are seen.
What might Reynolds’ words mean for us as teachers? With so many complicated academic and health-focused mandates we must shoulder as teachers, his words offer some grounding, and a place to focus our eyes and our energy. What does it mean simply to let our students know we see them? Even amidst the shifting demands on teachers, we can choose to keep our eyes on our students. Here are some simple ways to do that:
Pay attention to how much you hear your own voice in the classroom, and how much you hear your students’ voices. This activity, called Don’t Speak, can help.
Offer your students a concrete place to express what’s on their minds, what they care about. Then make a point of studying what they have to say. A Graffiti Board is a good place to start.
Prioritize your students’ ownership in the physical space in which they learn alongside you. Make Room is an activity that can get you started.
As you consider your list of content to study this week, include the kids themselves – incorporate time for them to be the subject of the learning. What Would You See in a Museum of Me? is a great way for students to study themselves and one another – while also building literacy skills.
Wishing you all a week of learning important things – from your kids!