How do you find a voice?

Not that long ago, I sat and listened to a conversation that really bothered me. It made me upset. It made me angry. I wasn’t directly involved in the discussion, but I could have chimed in. I could have said something … but I didn’t. I sat back. I listened. I went through everything in my head that I could say, and then, I stood up and I left.

At the time, I thought that leaving was the best thing to do. I knew that I would be alone in my opinion, and I questioned if sharing it would have made a difference. I felt as though I needed to stand up for some people that weren’t in the room at the time though, and that’s why I wish I spoke up. I was the quiet bystander, and was I just as guilty as the others, when I chose not to stand up and say anything?

Flash forward to today, and I was in the classroom working with students on Social Studies. We are trying to narrow down our issues for our Election Campaign, and students wanted to read and think a little bit more about our list of issues to try and make some final decisions. As I went and worked with the different groups today, I saw some incredible things happening:

  • One group of students got so passionate about the topic of immigration that they chose to write a letter to Stephen Harper sharing their views. They gave me a rough draft of the letter, and I asked them some questions with the hope of them going back and thinking more. These students have every intention of sending off this letter. Why? I never suggested this to them, but they knew that this was a federal issue, and if they want a change to happen, Prime Minister Harper is the person to make the change. I’m hoping that this group will also choose to send their letter to our Member of Parliament to see what support he can offer them. These students have a voice though, and know that they need to share their thoughts if they want to be heard.

  • Another group of students decided to share their municipal/provincial problem on their blog with the hope of capturing a Board member’s attention. These two students have read a lot about the closing of Millgrove School, and they think that they have a plan. I wrote them back with some questions of my own, but I also shared their post through Twitter, with the hope that others will see it and offer some feedback. Again, I never suggested that students share their learning in this way, but in their minds, this was the best way to express themselves.

    Watching these Grade 5 students taught me a lot about standing up and having a voice. We need to try. Change can’t happen if we don’t say anything. Silence is agreement, and if we’re not in agreement, what are we saying by doing nothing at all? So I can’t change what happened in the past, but I’m going to try and change what I do from now on. How do you make the choice about when to stand up and when to remain quiet? I’d love to hear your words of advice!


    11 thoughts on “How do you find a voice?

    1. Great thought provoking question. My problem is that I rarely Am quiet. As my wife will attest, I will open my mouth pretty much every opportunity. That in itself is a problem. What I have learned is how to be more political and try to take emotion out of the argument. No matter how heated I may be, no emotion. Debate and talk from your rationale side, then find a good friend, colleague, or partner to talk with the emotions. I have slowly learned that some things are not worth the argument. I try to think about is it worth my time to argue and debate or is it falling on deaf ears. If falling then the talk goes in circles and it is a waist of time. Sorry I really don’t have an answer. Go with your gut.

      Proud of your student for standing up. He will write back by the way, have sent letters from students in the past.

      P.s I personally find it hard to stay quiet and I admire those that do; however, you do need to find an outlet.

      • Thanks for your comment, Jonathan! I think that my problem is that I struggle with not being emotional. The emotions just happen. And that’s why I sometimes do stay quiet. In this case, I wish that I said something. It may have been worth the emotions (even if they did creep in). But I didn’t think that I could say what was in my head and be prepared for the response I would receive, so I left. I did speak to a good friend later though, and that helped, and this blog post helped too. Even speaking in writing works for me!

        Glad to hear that Prime Minister Harper will write back! My students will be thrilled. Thanks again!


      • Thanks for your comment! Not only am I impressed with what the students chose to do, but also with the fact that they chose to do it. They understand the importance of standing up and having a voice in issues that matter to them. I’m so happy that our superintendent and trustee commented on my students’ blog post. They’ll be thrilled, and they’ll know that there’s power to sharing.


    2. Hi Mrs.Dunsiger this is my first time visting your blog and may I say that as a grade 5 student my self you seem like a very inspiring teacher to the kids in your class! I agree that having a voice is very important!!! It’s kind of like voting you have a say of who you want to vote for and I think during the conference even if nobody might have had the same idea even if you shared your idea they could have changed there mind later on. So what I’m trying to say to everyone if you have an opinion don’t keep it to your-self , say something and have your voice heard!!!!!

      -ykim2315/Grade 5 student Yuna

      • Thanks for the comment, Yuna! I love hearing student voices on my posts. I’m glad you think that sharing your voice is so important. How do you suggest that people “speak up and have their voices heard” if they know that their thoughts will be different than many other people in the room? Any words of advice?

        Thanks again!
        Miss Dunsiger

        • Thank you for the comment Miss.Dunsiger!!!!
          Well I would have to say life’s about taking risks even if means you won’t succeed. You just got to give it your very best. Just like how a teacher always says for school work or homework just do the best you can! Or lets say you work at a business office and you need to make new ideas for toys , tools , clothing e.t.c if you say your thought you could come up with something no-one might have thought about. So I guess what I’m trying to say you just need to take a risk and give it your best shot. It could take time no-one said speaking-up is easy. So when there’s a time when you feel like something needs to be said just give it a shot 🙂

          NEVER BE AFRAID!!!

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