The Power of Asking Students for Their Opinion

Throughout the year I have volunteered in my daughter’s class to teach character ed lessons. I like to interact with her classmates and it’s such a great reminder of the incredible job of teachers as I plan the lesson, gather resources, facilitate the learning and reflect on everything else I should have done throughout the lesson! 

I have taught for many years and spend my days teaching others about teaching yet I still agonize over preparing an hour lesson for Kindergartners. Before the big day I had planned some activities and I was debating whether or not to show a quick video so I asked my daughter for her opinion. She agreed the video would be great and suggested that I ditch the activity I had planned but proceeded to offer a few other suggestions. She thought that I should make a list of examples and ask the class to signal with their hands if this was an example of a character trait or not. Simple, yet effective. Seriously- why didn’t I think of that?! Together we brainstormed some great examples and non-examples that were perfect for her class and grade level. 

As a result of her feedback and suggestions she was so engaged and excited for the lesson and so were the rest of the kids. Her suggestions helped ensure that I was providing examples and activities that were relevant to her and the other students. As a learner she has great experience with what works, what doesn’t and how she wants to learn- even in Kindergarten.

As we go back to school and get ready to plan learning experience for students (and teachers) there are a few things to keep in mind:

Kids know how to learn– They have been doing it since they were born.  They are naturally curious and they just need the right conditions to engage with ideas and content.  Our job is to set up the environment and experiences and remove barriers so they can continue to learn and explore the world, ideas and their own questions.

Elevate their voice-We all value being asked for our opinion. As a parent and educator I know how much better the outcome is if I take the time to involve others. The more we value student’s creativity and help them see their value, the more they will recognize this in themselves.  We can learn a lot from asking those who are learning what and how they want to learn. We will likely learn a lot from this process too! 

Make it personal- Taking the time to design learning experiences in a way that is personal and authentic adds so much value and brings the learner in. Including students in the learning design is a powerful way to ensure that they connect with the content and the learning objectives.

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