Giving our Students a Voice: Listening to our Learners

Just teaching at our students is not enough for them to gain a proper education. In my now second year serving as a Reading Coach through AmeriCorps, I have been able to see my previous statement as a reality; for students that I had and currently have the pleasure to work with. The current population of students I serve are urban city students, who are first generation English speakers. My second grade students have humbled me to the idea that students should have control over their education. The issue that comes into play is that, who will actually listen to them?

During my first year as a Graduate Student, I have been able to put the theory from my courses into practice with my second graders. Through different creative exercises, discovery learning outcomes, and putting play into learning, I have a new understanding as to what is best for my students. With that said, I have come to these, and many other conclusion, by doing the following for my students : Listening to them! No, I am not the perfect educator, but I am willing to hear their ideas and stories because they have so much to say! The following three areas are where I see my students’ voice needs to be heard the most: Voice in their writing, the silenced dialogue, and ESL learners.

silenced dialogue

THE CULTURE OF POWER

This snippet of the article kind of breaks down the forms of power and how it plays a role in education. I found the first three points to be the ones most suitable to meet the needs of the classroom.

  • (1)Issues of power are enacted in classrooms.
    • Power of teacher over students. Teachers ultimately choose the learning.
  • (2) There are codes or rules for participating in power
    • Linguistic forms, communicative strategies, and presentation self.
  • (3) The rules of the culture of power are are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power
    • The success in institutions – schools, workplaces, and etc – is predicated upon acquisition of the culture of those in power

“Many liberal educators hold that the primary goal for education is for children to become autonomous, to develop fully who they are in the classroom setting without having arbitrary, outside standards forced upon them.”

“The dilemma is not really in the debate over instructional methodology. But rather in communicating across cultures and in addressing the more fundamental issue of power, of whose voice gets to be heard in determining what is best for poor children and children of color.”

ESL Learners

ESL students are defined as the following: People who come to live in an English – speaking country, and do not speak English very well (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/ESL) . With research on the topic of ESL students as an undergraduate, and my current experience as a Reading Coach, I’ve been able to have both the education and field experience with the ESL student population. In the aspect of learning English in an academic setting, ESL students may have a harder time understanding the “standard English” that is accepted into the world of academia. By trying to speak this academic English language, many issues may appear in their writing. Unfortunately, the academic system in most native – English speaking countries only see writing as a way of truly understanding English “correctly”. Even many native – English speaking student writers have trouble with writing and the process it takes to become a good writer. With that said, we as educators (on all platforms) must approach ESL students in a manner that both benefits them and their best interest to grow as writers. Now that I have made a clear understanding of the position where the ESL students stand, it is now appropriate to introduce the article. 

Most public schools have approximately a class size of a 1:23 ratio of teacher to students. It is quite challenging for one teacher to address the specific needs of every student, especially if they have slight extra baggage (disabilities, IEPs, ESL, etc.); this is where tutors come into play. As I stated previously, tutors’ roles are to aid with the writing process, to help students develop their writing. Unfortunately, even tutors must address the elephant in the room: Tutors need help and pointers on how to work with ESL students. Unlike native – English speakers, ESL students have deeper rooted issues with their writing, that might even be a handful for tutors. This article is a breath of fresh air for tutors who have students that come from ESL backgrounds. The reading goes on to break down into 11 subcategories that tutors may face with their students and options to help their situation.

voice in writing

“Writers in fact depend on readers’ willingness to stay with a text, even a difficult one, without judging it prematurely on the basis of its apparent violation of their own perspectives or impressions of some subject.”

“I found the first three points to be the ones most suitable to meet the
needs of the classroom.” But unfortunately, we do not see in the case of our young beautiful writers. This writing stigma is built upon the relationship we have between them as student and teacher (I am currently very guilty of this with my 2nd Graders).

“When we consider how writing is taught, however, this normal and dynamic connection between a writer’s authority and the quality of a reader’s attention is altered because of the peculiar relationship between teacher and student.”

Due to teachers feeling that they have this intellectual and experienced authority over the students writing, we try to have a say over what type of voice the student is trying to have inn their writing. We come in with having the best intentions, but it falls short when we let this authority ego take over.

Sticky note to ms. p!

This is my project for the theme of voice in writing and education, I am giving my students the chance to voice their opinions and input on how they want to shape their education.

I created this replica of a “sticky note” that my students are accustomed to me using when I give them feedback on their writing. For each month, I will give my students theses replica sticky notes as weekly personal learning goal setters. At the beginning of each week, the students will take 5 minutes to fill out the sticky note so that we can work on their goals for the week. For my project, I will share some completed books on my blog!

further reading

Elbow, Peter. RECONSIDERATIONS : Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries. 2007, scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=eng_faculty_pubs.

Harris, Muriel, and Tony Silva. “Tutoring ESL Students: Issues and Options.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 44, no. 4, 1993, p. 525., doi:10.2307/358388.

Delpit, Lisa. “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 58, no. 3, 1988, pp. 280–299., doi:10.17763/haer.58.3.c43481778r528qw4.

Checkout my new blog to see me turn this theory into practice!

https://learningthroughthearts.home.blog/2019/12/07/turing-theory-into-practice-giving-students-a-voice/

Author:

Educator|Mentor|Artist|Aspiring Traveler|Student "Make a difference about something other than yourself." - Toni Morrison "Be the person you needed growing up."

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