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One aspect of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is building strong, authentic relationships between students and educators. Meaningful connections occur when you invite student voices, incorporate what you learn about them into the curriculum, and use that knowledge to inform your implementation practices. Creating space to really hear student voices must be done explicitly and done in multiple ways. It’s important to note that asking for student input but failing to follow through on it can be more harmful to your connection than not hearing their voices at all.
Asking students simple questions can change their educational experience completely!
Take a look:
Students Are Empowered When Educators Manage Their Own Fears
John Spencer talks about what keeps educators from moving students from mere compliance to genuine engagement. Read more here.
Reflection Paves The Way For More Effective Teaching Practices
Lakeya Omogun shares the reflective process that led to a change in her teaching practice. That one change deepened the connection between her students and the content she teaches them. Read the full article here.
Now, Do Just One Thing
Start by asking a simple question of your students so you create a space to hear their voices. The question can be the same for all students or customized based on what may be a challenge already in the classroom for certain students.
Be sure not to dismiss any voices. Your job is to create the space to hear. You may have to ask clarifying questions of your students, but when you do be sure to let them know you’re seeking clarity, not seeking to alter their responses. Be sure to let the students know that you’re gathering information right now and you plan to work to incorporate at least one thing into your class going forward. Also let them know that if you find you’re not able to do what they offered exactly the way it was presented, you’ll come back to them and ask more questions so that you can create a win/win for the classroom environment.
After you ask that question, take time to really reflect on what you’re hearing from your students.
- “What resonated with me that I already knew about my students”; and
- “What resonated with me that was a surprise and makes me feel uncomfortable?”
After you spend sufficient time reflecting think about what other questions you could ask them and/or how you can make this more of a regular classroom practice.
Downloadable steps for you to try: