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Seventh Grade Writing Teacher from South Texas

The comment made about

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The comment made about "loosening my grip on learning content without losing my grip on classroom management" is very telling of a confident teacher. It seems that many educators feel threatened when they are forced to deviate from the scripted lessons. I think those classrooms would be mentioned in the least favorite classes of incoming students.
One way that I have tried to include student voice in my lessons is in my warm-ups. Each day I post a quote that students must quick-write about. After the first week, I ask students to bring in quotes that stand out to them. They love seeing the quotes with questions posted about the writing topic they chose. In addition, I try to ask what appears to be random questions that tie into lessons. For example, I ask how teenagers can receive a driver's permit. I ask them to create a quick list with a partner about the requirements and restrictions of having a permit over a driver's license. Then, begin a lesson on subordinating conjunctions and ask them at the end of the class to compare subordinating conjunctions to a learner's permit. Students leave the class saying things like "you seem so random but then everything is connected by the end ---you have to really pay attention in here." Wow---what a concept.

Your post was very helpful in that there are ALWAYS those few kids that will try to fade into the background and by conscientiously scheduling "talk times," I many be better able to reach them.

I love this article about

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I love this article about uncovering students values. As a new teacher, I feel that I have a good understanding of what is going on in my students lives, especially with what is "in or not." I also enjoy getting to know my students in the beginning of the year and showing them that I am invested in their lives. This is a tool a college professor of mine shared with me. She told me to uncover to our students that we are humans. Teaching elementary school, students very often are shocked when they see me out in public shopping or eating. They are shocked that their teacher is a regular human just like their mothers and fathers. Showing our students that we have emotions, feelings and truly care about them show them that we truly are invested in their learning and they can trust us. Establishing this relationship is so important if you want your students to succeed. When students feel strongly about their teachers chances are they will WANT to perform better and make us happy.

This is also true about adults. I like that you compared this issue to colleagues as well. If a colleague is rude or doesn’t seem to care about you or the other teachers on your team, you feel bad and often have a feeling of rudeness back to them. This applies to our students. Uncovering our students values by asking them about previous teachers, what they like or dislike, what they do at home or simply having a conversation with them so they feel that you genuinely care for them will significantly improve how you feel towards your students as a teacher but also how they feel as students towards you! The title of your article truly sums it all up. If you want your students to learn, appeal to what they like.

I am a semi retired teacher who is still interested in teaching.

You could try getting your

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You could try getting your guys to write Socratic dialgues to really get to the bottom of their thoughts, reasoning, motivation etc. If they write a dialogue btween themselves and themselves to get to the bottom of what they think. The important thing is for them to learn so it isn't really necessary for anyone else to read their dialogues, unless they wish it. You might just ask them to record the fact that they have written such a dialogue and then just notice how what they do and say changes.

Educator, Social Entrepreneur + Founder of Pretty Brainy, Inc.

You are covering a lot of

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You are covering a lot of ground teaching history and government and journalism! You may like knowing that a core of my research interviewing students via questionnaire and one-on-one conversation took place in the journalism classroom with high school and college students. It is useful for them to experience being the interviewee.

High School History, Government and Journalism teacher from Miami, Florida

What a great article! I

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What a great article! I couldn't agree more. Too often, some students view teachers are mere rule enforces, rather than individuals who genuinely care about them and their success. I love how you mention the significance of the teacher taking steps to "humanize" herself. This helps teachers earn respect, and the rewards are what we live for. Thank you for writing such a fantastic piece.

Educator, Social Entrepreneur + Founder of Pretty Brainy, Inc.

Candice --- Thank you for

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Candice --- Thank you for your compliments + comments. You are correct about a teacher doing well to stand strong in directing and leading the class. This doesn't preclude authentically welcoming the student voice. Have I had students try to cross that boundary with me? Yes, especially in my first year of teaching high school.

I would love to know the success others have had in creating this balance within their classes and ways in which they, too, made it work.

Thank you!

Educational researcher

Great read !! This pops up a

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Great read !! This pops up a lot of ideas, but my concerns are with the relationship building on levels that have to be a bit formal. Wont that be triggering student attitudes that might break boundaries set my teacher as a classroom control? Plus every student might not respond to this method hence introvert students will be subjected to more personality closure when they see their fellows build a relation with the teacher? Just a thought though :)

This can be a very healthy approach to engage your students so they ultimately learn but i believe well defined teachers can only hold this together..

Wanted to mention that I really love your writing style Heidi, Great share !!

Educator, Social Entrepreneur + Founder of Pretty Brainy, Inc.

Part of what I hope to convey

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Part of what I hope to convey with this piece is that the attitude with which we approach our relationships with students is significant. How do we regard them? How do we regard their abilities? How do we help them hold their dreams? As an educator, I learned to loosen my grip on the learning content without losing my grip on classroom management.

Education Specialist

So long as the teacher

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So long as the teacher retains ultimate control over what is to be learned, including the subjects studied, there is an inherent inequity built into the teacher-student relationship which will always limit the authenticity of the response from the students. Those schools which treat the students as co-equal inhabitants of the school space have the opportunity for genuine conversations which will never be possible within the conventional power structured school.

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