Every year I amazed at the fact that we are able to rally and mobilize as a school community and host a national education conference. It is no small feat and I am grateful to the many people who put in hours of work in order to make it happen.
This year it was my honor to lead two conversations where SLA students shared insights and experiences that inspired and informed. It is a powerful thing to be able to step back and watch your students describe their learning and their ideas about education. Many students shared work that was deeply personal and and described ways that school can give students a voice, transform one’s understanding of self, and redefine a young person’s role in the world.
I listened to Amy talk about her Language Autobiography as a project that changed her and expanded her understanding of self. She reexamined her past, became confident in her voice, and was motivated to become an activist.
Jasir spoke about his Modern Day de Tocqueville chapters and the value of finding an outlet to express the anger he feels about the representation of African Americans in our society.
Marlyn talked of how deeply the idea that “No one gives you a voice, you need to go take it,” resonated with her and spoke with pride of her Education & Democracy video and the role of student protest in the struggle for school funding.
Darya shared experiences of being challenged to step outside of her comfort zone while making her work public. Two years ago she stood on a milk crate on a busy street corner, surrounded by classmates and strangers, and generated the courage to give a short speech about the Op Ed she had written. Months later she worked with a group that created a site specific dance piece that they performed in a city-wide arts festival.
There were many other powerful moments. Students spoke of inquiry and project-based learning with incredible insight and and understanding. Students helped educators create education manifestos. Students offered ideas and strategies to teachers looking to change their practice.
Student voices matter. Educators sharing ideas matters. Reimagining education matters.