Welcome to Education Unimagined, where current and former students share how they imagine education and schools could be regarding student leadership! It’s time for a change in education, we need to empower our youth with both education and leadership so that they can take up the mantle of our future. What are we doing to empower students who want to make a difference? When we say an educator’s job is to inspire the future generation, we should take this seriously. So why not start imagining what could be, and that starts with listening to the voices of students? How about a particular school where all students are encouraged and supported in leadership roles that are relevant to their personal interests? In many ways, schools can be devoted exclusively to student aspirations while Education Unimagined is an opportunity to give students a voice, in a system where often their voices are unheard. We ask them to share their experiences and offer advice on how we can do better for all.
Wednesday Mar 29, 2023
Wednesday Mar 29, 2023
Wednesday Mar 29, 2023
Meet Shane Lawrence, he has been teaching for 17 years, mostly within the arts. Over that time, he has taught Drama, ELA, Social Studies, Photography, Computers, Film, Art, & Digital Media. His biggest passion is teaching Film Studies and Production. Outside of work, he is a husband, a dad of two young ones, a cyclist (as time allows), and someone with too many hobbies and interests.
I wonder if you've considered asking students what they wanna do in your classroom. Do you think you're afraid of what might happen? If we ask them, you actually might be surprised at what their answers are. I like to think of it as if I just use my ideas. I'm only one brain if I include my students now I'm working with 20 Brains or however many students you have.
In my conversation with Shane, we explore our feelings about being a first-year teacher versus a veteran teacher, and how that's really changed who we are and how we operate. How have you developed as an educator? How has your role changed? What do you think we could do to support new teachers so that they can see the value and not be so afraid of student voice? This interview with Shane really made me think about being a new teacher and some of those fears and lack of confidence. That new teachers face, and how that really impacts our ability to engage and empower students.
Shane shares how he knows student voice can be terrifying basically because of our training as new teachers, that you are the authority in the room. As he has grown as a teacher however, the understanding of what the student's role in the classroom is has helped him identify what he believes student voice is, it has to do with just empowering students to be more than just receptacles, more than just the people who come in and do the things that you assign them.
He has gone from holding my lesson plans tightly in my hand to hold it out in an open palm.
We talk about how the title teacher may be a source of the problem, maybe we need to coin a new word or a new term for that person who stands in front of the room, and what we call our students.
I ask him about the transformation into less of an authoritarian role. When he started to realize he didn't need to be hanging onto this so tight and he is always willing to see if he can make ideas from students work. Why would you shy away from that? This is making things better, so let's do that. he tells my students all the time, if this doesn't work, Stop. We'll back it up. We'll try something different. Or if you have something different that you would like to do, let me know and we'll see if we can incorporate that.
I love the idea of how if you don't activate that student voice, if you don't engage with them and empower them, then you really are missing out on something that could be better and different in a good way.
I ask Shane to give advice to a new teacher, and he says, “Chop your lesson plans in half.” What are the things your kids need to learn? Is what you're proposing, is that the only way? Or can you make it more flexible? Don’t pretend to give them choice, they will figure it out. And then when you actually decide that you want to give them choices, they're not gonna feel empowered to share. So if you can instead give them real choices, show them that you are a professional and that you can do things in more than one way.
You can find his Podcast here https://unpro.podbean.com