A Quick Note on Student Voice [Because You Need To Hear It … Again]

Jose Vilson Resources

Everything Is Coming Up Millhouse

Everything Is Coming Up Millhouse

A couple of days back, I saw an incident with one of my student ambassadors and a teacher. Nothing to write the Post about, but tempers flared, and misunderstandings ensued. Yelling and consternation spill over to the hallway. Frankly, a huge misunderstanding only inflated by the fact that other adults who felt like pushing the buttons deeper instead of pulling them back. The only phrase that kept ringing in my mind, “He SHOULDN’T BE A STUDENT LEADER!” Shaking my head while I headed home, I thought I would have to do my first intervention of the year between student and teacher to get to the truth.

Yesterday, during one of my breaks, the student ambassador came to me and said he had a discussion with the teacher afterward, which he prompted. The student resolved the situation with the teacher on his own. Thank. You.

Moral Of The Story: Believe it or not, your job isn’t about you.

It’s not about any of us, really. We’re allowed to ask for things that allow us to do the best job possible: reasonable salaries, job security, and good professional relationships with our colleagues and supervisors. We’re allowed to tell people off when they suggest that our jobs as educators see easily with all the pseudo-vacation days and altered working hours. We’re allowed to feel the warmth of the spotlight when most of America likes their child’s teacher way more than most of the political figures who seek to devalue the teaching profession.

Yet, every moment educators step into a classroom (if you’re in a classroom, that is), we gave the obligation to put our best foot forward by taking a few steps back … and let the kids talk.

Unfortunately, too many adults, educators included, still see themselves as the primary foci of all their endeavors. They don’t bestow lessons on children because they ought to learn, but because their students’ learning is a reflection of their own awesomeness, a self-gratification that gives them cool points with colleagues. They see children as means to an end, little people that can do their bidding so they can worship a false idol. They listen not to actually listen, but to use later, to bargain, to hold over as a means of control.

If you find yourself in the above group, excuse yourself.

Rather than constantly finding ways to manipulate kids in ways that don’t help them, let’s teach them how to advocate for themselves in times when they don’t have an adult to back them up immediately. Let’s have kids pick their own projects for school and set the guidelines. Every so often, they have to learn how to make good decisions, and we will just have to be there when they don’t.

We as educators ought to hope that, when they make good decisions, a domino effect takes place and they continue to make those decisions, but if our hand keeps pushing those dominoes, we never get the full effect. Neither do they.

Mr. Vilson, who strives for fairness when he can …