Monday, July 3, 2017

Using Your Voice

I've been doing a lot of thinking around audience this summer, it was the topic of my presentation at the Scholastic Summit and I've been writing around a few ideas. For the past few years I've made it a mission to give my readers and writers an audience through our classroom. The size of the audience can vary. Sometimes they choose to share with a friend, sometimes with the class, sometimes with the school, sometimes with our town, and sometimes with the world. Our method of sharing can vary from a peer conference, to a book talk, to Padlet, to Flipgrid, to Twitter, to... you get the idea. But one tenet has always been important to me, that my students get to make that choice for themselves.

See, I was a shy student. My mom attended parent-teacher conferences through my senior year not because I was doing poorly, not because the teachers requested them, but because she was convinced without attending them, they might not see me. I was that quiet. However, in my own way I did make noise. I tried to do right when I could, speak up when I could. That belief has followed me until today, do what you can, when you can, in any way you can. My friends know that it was out of character for me to begin blogging, to begin presenting at conferences. That is not me. However, I took tiny steps forward and the reception was kind, the water was warm. People encouraged me, cheered me on. Comments here, on Twitter, and on Facebook, made me want to try harder, to do more, to speak up - even though it scared me.

That is what I want for my students too. To try to speak up. To share their heart. I can tell them it's scary. I can tell them that it was hard for me too. But I will be with them every step of the way, and so will our classroom community. 

Will we mess up, of course. But when we do, we will talk about it. We will come together, brainstorm what we could have done, and support each other in growth. We don't want to silence voices, but lift those up. There is far too much silencing and negativity online. That is not what I want for my students, or for myself. 

And we will begin in the way I always do, with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I look at it all the time. It reminds me that it isn't the critic whose voice I need to be listening to, the person who wants to spew only negativity isn't helping me grow. Instead, I look ahead, aim high, and keep moving forward. I hope my students can join me down this path, we have so much to share.