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Using Student Voice to Guide a Democratic Classroom

Authored by Melissa Galang Han
Edition: 1

How can we enable students to feel ownership of their learning, without bribes or punishments? How can we give up control and let students lead the way? I confess, I am a recovering control freak. Every year I encountered students like my Andy and Anna, students who responded to my efforts to control their learning with anger, or by checking out. This year, I put away my behavior chart, erased the table points and worked with my 19 first grade students at Audubon K-8 School, a public school in Southern California, to develop a democratic classroom where student voice guided my teaching and our learning. I empowered my students to define learning that was meaningful to them, and I learned to listen and respond to their needs. I guided my students to practice solving problems with each other in authentic ways through community meetings. Through it all, I discovered that when students have choice within a project, you don't have to convince them to learn. They take the work home, they have a reason for engaging with their peers, they feel listened to, and they enjoy it more, even when the work is hard. I also found that when I slowed down, asked my students how they felt about their learning, and focused my teaching on the areas they identified, they were more invested in what we were learning. These findings indicate that when students experience a student-centered classroom, they develop confidence to persevere in the face of challenges, rely on one another, and are able to create innovative solutions - if educators ask questions and truly listen to what their students say.

Publication Date:
1489595600 / 9781489595607
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Full Color
Related Categories:
Education / General

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