Yesterday I had an awesome meeting with about 75 of our 7th and 8th grade students. That's over a quarter of the total 7th and 8th grade students in our school. It was an impromptu meeting about curriculum and about changes in our school since last year. Many of the changes have been due to budget cuts, some of the changes are due to a change in curriculum, and some are due to new teachers teaching new subjects. Now, getting 75 7th and 8th graders together for an impromptu meeting can be a bit of a daunting task, but these kids behaved in a way I wish the adults in their lives could have seen. They were respectful of me, but more importantly, they were respectful of one another. They took turns, expressed their opinions, let others express their opinions (even if it was contradictory to their own opinion), and waited for answers or explanations. They were given a voice and sometimes I think that as educators we don't give kids enough of a voice in their own education.
I learned a lot about the kids yesterday. I knew that the kids had opinions about their education, but aside from an informal and less than personal survey from time to time, I never really spent time with the kids to ask their opinions about our school. On a personal level, I learned something I plan on incorporating on a more frequent basis. I need to provide the venue and the time to our kids to ask their opinions, to listen to their suggestions, and to give them a voice in their education. I owe it to each of them.