I know that I write about, speak about, and advocate for student voice....often. I truly believe that is a key to reaching our students. They need to have control over their learning, not just in the now, but for a lifetime. Then on Friday, real-life example of how far student voice and choice can take an individual walked into my classroom.
I have a full-time intern this semester. She prepared a brief activity to introduce herself to my learners. As she began sharing a few things, one item opened a door to a lot of questions for me and my students. She explained that when she completes her internship with us and graduates, she already as a teaching job....for two years....with the Peace Corps....in Madagascar. I'm sure you can imagine the questions that tidbit sparked. She transparently shared her story and it starts in one of her high school English classes.
In high school, she had a teacher who told the students that they could choose any topic to research. In searching for a topic, she came across the Peace Corps and her interest was peaked. As she dug into her research, she began to see this as an opportunity for her to grow as a person and give back to others.
Upon entering her teacher preparation classes at the University of Alabama, this idea of serving in the Peace Corps resurfaced and she began the journey of making this a reality. She isn't traveling with friends and she knows no one who is or has been in the Peace Corps. Yet, this is something about which she is passionate....thanks to a teacher who gave her an opportunity to choose. And where did that passion take her? All the way to Madagascar (come June 20th).
Her story reinforced why it's truly worth all the planning, conferring, and time involved in giving students a voice in their learning. In so doing, we are investing in our students and their future...and we have no idea how far that will take them. It could take them to the other side of the planet, out into space, or into the great unknown. But we'll never know until we give them that opportunity. Let's give them a voice and let them start their own journey.
Want to read more? Here are a few other posts I've written on student voice and choice: