In redesigning my classroom with the purpose of building classroom community and community learning spaces, an interesting thing happened last week at recess. A group of girls didn’t like having to use the chalkboard in the heat of the sun on the sidewalk. They asked if they could “chalk” on the picnic table and in the back of the playground. I asked why they didn’t use the chalkboard on the fence on the side of the playground, and they said it was because other students were playing basketball and foursquare there. The back of the playground has more shade and a picnic table, which they wanted to use to “play school.”
Since the playground is used by everyone, I suggested they come up with a petition and present their ideas to our principal, Mrs. Agel. Four of the girls got together and talked about their ideas. One wrote a note about what they wanted to do: Use chalk on the wooden picnic table as well as possibly paint a chalkboard on the back fence in the shade. They got all the students in our class to sign the petition, and then delivered it to our principal’s office.
Mrs. Agel responded back to them and said she had a few questions, and asked if they could meet the next day. The girls met with Mrs. Agel at 10 am the next morning in her office. Mrs. Agel gave them permission to go forward with their ideas as long as they cleaned up their mess and worked together with other students to create a new chalkboard.
The girls have now formed a committee and are including members of our classroom in designing and painting a new chalkboard area. As the girls met with Mrs. Agel, they were very nervous. They said, “We’re just little kids.” They learned through this process that their ideas and opinions matter, and they can affect change in our school environment.
I am very proud of my students for making a difference.
by Wesley Fryer
One thought on “Helping My Students Find Their Voice”
I am an elementary education student, working on my degree from K-State, and I wanted to tell you how inspiring I found this post. Through a little encouragement, you empowered your students to turn their ideas into reality. You showed them how they really can make a difference in their school community, and they can now translate those skills into making a difference in their larger communities. That is both amazing and beautiful. Thank you for showing me what good teaching looks like!