Teaching my fourth graders the importance of voicing their opinion is a powerful step in their growth and development as members of a community. Helping them understand and differentiate the difference between being disrespectful and constructively challenging an issue is not easy objective. I find it challenging at times, even as an adult to speak out and advocate for what I feel is right without flying off the handle and getting red in the face with anger (just like fourth graders who sometimes are egocentric and all about themselves.)
It’s easy, as an adult and teacher to get caught up with ones own goals, plans, responsibilities and duties and forget about what’s at stake, or what the collective goals of a team are. I believe it is important to recognize that each person in a community of practice affects one other. I believe its important to remember that teachers, administrators and support staff should have collective goals with students best interest in mind and recognize that at times original plans are sometimes compromised (as long as the students are put first.) Compromising is hard for adults and teachers just like it is for fourth graders. Sometimes we just need to get creative and work a little harder to make things work.
Speaking out, defending and justifying ones beliefs is a crucial part of maintaining a diverse community, while also respecting and valuing others’ perspectives. Have you ever felt like your opinion doesn’t matter? This is something I don’t want my students to experience and I take proactive measures in my classroom to make sure that my students practice speaking out and advocating what they believe in a respectful and responsible manner. I make it a personal goal to practice what I preach. I wouldn’t feel right about telling my students how important it is to speak out if I didn’t do it myself (even though I know and have experienced getting shut down once in a while.) Staying strong and advocating for what is right feels good. That is something I do want my students to experience.What have you advocated for lately? Who have you stood up for today? When was the last time you stood up for yourself, someone, or something you care about?
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