Giving Students an Active Voice
Helping educators understand that students learn better when they are involved, as well as how to get students engaged throughout a lesson should be the goal of every school leader. There may still exist, though, an upside-down remnant from last century teaching, hanging on in many classrooms, from when all seats were in rows, and the “if you have something to say, raise your hands” classroom management approach was the only one. Go back further to find—kids should be seen—not heard. It’s archaic, but you can walk into schools, today, and find the essence of those relics alive. It is, with certainty, that in those places, students are quietly shutting down in greater numbers, while possibly fewer are acting out in a variety of creative ways. Without leadership, here, things in schools and classrooms remain the same—old.
There are reasons students look out windows, become disengaged, or act out in class. Part of it is that they may feel disconnected, so it is easy to completely disconnect, and disrupt negatively rather than positively. It is not easy for students to be passive, so if active is not a given, they seek to be active themselves. At the same time, it is also difficult for educators, who haven’t known anything other than seats in rows and hands raised to change. It is not easy for educators to offer a piece of the teaching action to students, but it needs to happen. That too, is something a leader needs to show, and in time—demand.
Discovery is easy and undeniable. One educator observation can be enough to clearly see and discover how many students are actively engaged in a lesson. Even wonderful teachers are surprised, because they sometimes can’t see for themselves that only a few students are completely involved, while most others are “somewhere else”. An observation is not difficult to do, and the conclusions easy to see. And the conversation, or post observation chat, happening quickly, isn’t difficult either. And amazingly, asking an educator how many students were engaged, and for how long in their lesson, can be a positive awakening. It is the most important question, and it’s easy to answer. The bottom line is that once answered, changes can happen quickly. It is an honest and positive teacher and leadership revelation and exchange.
The next part isn’t difficult either. Once educators know there’s a missing piece to the teaching and learning puzzle, they’ll want to fill in the rest, and have all their students involved—and not just a few. We’ve seen success happen, here, first hand, when school leaders have shared ways to bring the entire class together. One seamless way is by introducing teachers and students to ClassFlow, a cloud-based, interactive lesson builder, which engages students, but also allows for two-way feedback through computers and handheld devices—student to teacher—and teacher to student. That can happen in a personalized learning way, in small, or large group situations, as well as a combination of all of those. If you know there’s a missing link in good teaching in your school or district, ClassFlow might be the answer for adding student voice and action in every class. The whole classroom-learning environment will change. Teachers might hear late-to-class excuses from students, who were too involved with a lesson to hear the class-change bell. Well, it could happen!