Friday, November 7, 2014

The Real Power of Student Voice & Choice

If we're being honest, I haven't been following the events in Colorado's Jeffco school district incredibly closely. Perhaps I should be, and maybe after what transpired last night I will, but this post really has nothing to do with the issues brought before the Jeffco School Board last night or on which side of things I stand. For me, this is really about how powerful it is when students step up and share their voice with the world.

I was losing steam scrolling through Twitter for something worth staying awake for last night when this caught my attention:

As I headed over to the #standup4kids live stream and looked back through the Tweets I found that a group of students had been escorted out of the building. Not being one to believe everything I read on social media or the internet, I watched intently to see what other information I could gather from the situation without being there myself. Minutes later, Tweets like this:

I followed the stream for a while longer and checked back in when I got up this morning. This is where Ashlyn comes in:

Watching this video gave me chills. Not because of the issue she is fighting for, but the way in which she is sharing her voice with the world. She wasn't provided the opportunity to speak her truth, so she found a different way to put it into the world. She created her own opportunity. 

I felt so encouraged as I watched this young woman advocate for herself, her beliefs, and what she thinks is best for her classmates present and future. "This is it!" I thought. "THIS is what I want every single child to learn in school." As an educator I think about my students, the children who I had the great fortunate to teach and learn from, and how proud I am of them when they advocate for their needs and take ownership of their experiences. It is brave and creative students like Ashlyn, her classmates in Jeffco Students for Change, and other young people around the world who give me great hope about the future. They remind me that nothing is impossible, that when you truly believe in something you've got to go after it, and above all they remind me that the dream education system I so desperately want for every child and teacher is worth fighting for. Because if these students can step up and advocate for themselves and others, I certainly can step up and advocate for them. 

For more information on the Jeffco School Board Meeting and to see video of the students being escorted out: