Taking On The Big Questions

I have to confess. Over the years, I’ve heard these comments before (from parents and/or students):

  • I’m bored!
  • Why are we doing this?
  • Can’t we do something more fun!
  • I don’t want to do this!
  • We did this last year. Why do we have to do this again?

I’ll admit that the comments almost always made me angry. My thoughts were always, “You’re doing this because I told you to do it. You’re getting a mark on it. Just do it!,” or “Students that want extensions create these extensions for themselves. Your child isn’t bored. He/she just needs to learn to do the work.”

If I ever made this comment — or a similar one — to you or your child, I apologize! The fault was mine. Student voice should be honoured, and by ignoring the comments and refusing to give a real reason for the learning, I wasn’t helping or engaging the students. My focus on inquiry this year has taught me just how much “student voice” and “student choice” matters.

Here’s what I’ve found myself saying lately if I hear similar comments to the ones listed above (and I must admit that with a shift in my teaching practices, I don’t hear these comments much anymore):

  • Why do you feel this way?
  • What would make things better?
  • How could we change this assignment for you?
  • What would make the learning more fun?
  • How do you want to share your learning, and how will your choice show me what you’ve learned?

I think that when students are actively engaged in the classroom, they want to be there to learn … and this is when the thinking and the learning really happens. Not only should students want to be there to learn, but I also think that teachers should want to be there as co-learners.

I’ve always LOVED teaching, and I’ve always been excited to be at school, but this year may be the best year yet! Why? For so many reasons …

  • I love the classroom discussions that evolve from our many provocations — and I love that these discussions often carry on at home.
  • I love the constant questioning, and how our classroom has almost become a never-ending Challenge Game (thanks to our VP, Kristi, for this positive change!).
  • I love how the students are getting each other and me to think in different ways.
  • I love how the students are so willing to take risks and problem solve together.
  • I love how the students have become so passionate about real world issues, and how they’re making links between these issues and our learning goals. 
  • I love how the students have learned that the learning really doesn’t end, and how this excites them as well!

If someone asked me, this year, I can say with certainty, that I would want to be a student in my class! Are there still changes that I want to make? Yes! I’m constantly reflecting and looking at ways to make activities better, meet more student needs, deepen student learning, and build student thinking. But I’m seeing success in ways that I’ve never seen before, and that thrills me!

So thank you to my many “critical friends” — both online and offline — for supporting me in a huge change, but making me more excited than ever about teaching and learning. Would you want to be a student in your classroom? How do you continue to reflect and change to better meet the needs of all students? How do you honour student, parent, and colleague voices throughout this process? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


4 thoughts on “Taking On The Big Questions

  1. Amen! Love this post. Something that I have been considering too as the year goes on. I think that as we continue to teach and guide through inquiry, it allows us to honour that voice and flip the model of teacher as all knowing power to student as the holder of the power. It also allows students to feel empowered by their own learning and want to be in the classroom. I know I want to be in your classroom everyday and I’m an adult.

    • Thanks Jonathan! I completely agree with you. I love coming to school each day and learning with the students, and I think we all want to have fun while learning too!


      P.S. You’re welcome to come visit anytime! 🙂

  2. No doubt about it Aviva, I would love to be a student in your room too 🙂
    As you say, the provocations really contribute so much to the discussions. These are true discussions though: interesting, purposeful, problematic wonderings and connections. Definitely NOT question and answers ” to guess what is in the teachers head”!!!!!
    Your classroom is truly personalised, in an authentic and thoughtful way – student voice is respected and heard and built upon. A community of learners 🙂
    Thank you again for your writing and sharing your thoughts, you always make me think,

    • Thanks for the comment, Kim! I love the “student voice” in the room, and I love where the students take their learning. It’s great that we can learn together!


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