“Hi, my name is…”
It started with those few words. Several Grade 5 students had already recorded their brief message on things they love. I figured the last student to speak would share something about a movie, music, family, friends, a sport or hobby. I was wrong.
Just a week earlier I came across a tweet from Sean Farnum (@magicpantsjones) asking for guest student submissions to his student run class podcast for a special Valentine’s edition. How neat would it be for our students to add their voice to something that would be shared with the world? How neat for Sean’s students to hear from kids from another school hundreds of miles away. Since we already a class participating in the 2017 Global Virtual Valentine’s Project and set to create digital Valentine creations using Buncee, I figured this would be the perfect place to find a few willing students to lend their voice to the podcast.
In introducing the Global Virtual Valentine’s Project and the guest podcast activity, I let students know that their work and voice would be shared to a global audience. I could sense the that the class was excited to get started. I was excited in knowing that for many, this was the first time most, if not all of them, were able to share something beyond the walls of their school.
While students were busy creating their digital Valentine to be shared with our partner classroom in India, I began to call students back to an adjoining room to add their voice to the guest podcast. The students started recording and they shared some of the things they loved. Getting family together, lacrosse, hockey, sledding down hills in the snow, snowboarding, skiing, buying candy, softball, friends, basketball, New York, hiking, dance, camping, and finding sticks were all shared. It was rolling along pretty much as expected.
The last student to volunteer to speak for the podcast came back to record. This student seemed a bit shy so I did the same I did for a few others seeming hesitant by coaching them up a bit. I told her to start by introducing herself, speak loud enough and explain what exactly she loves and why. I then asked her what she loved. She told me she loved bugs. I said, “That’s great, so why don’t you talk about your favorite bug, why you like it and maybe what others would…” Before I could finish she cut me off and said with confidence, “I know what I want to say.” Perfect, I thought. She’s ready to share what she loves about bugs. I pressed record and she said:
When I pressed stop I told her thank you and that she was amazing. She smiled back. I wasn’t quite sure what else to say at that moment. I could tell that this young girl felt empowered by getting this message out. I am glad she didn’t take my advice and just talk about bugs. What I thought would be a simple activity using technology turned out to be something bigger. Often times in education these moments occur when we least expect. This was one of them.
In one short recording, because another teacher across the country took the time to create a podcast to empower his students to share their voice, it allowed one of our students to share hers. I am thankful for all educators who create opportunities for students to share their voice and to share their work with the world. This reinforced something I’ve been thinking since taking a more global approach to learning and using technology in the classroom. We get a different, more authentic voice from students when they have the opportunity to share to the world. Creating opportunities to publish beyond the classroom, be it writing, art, or multimedia, hold more benefit than one may think. Perhaps providing more opportunities for this will allow students who feel like they do not fit in to find a like minded audience and a place where they do.
This student wanted her message to be heard by anyone who might be listening, anyone who may also feel like her. In addition to the podcast recording, she also added it to her Buncee slide to share with the classroom in India. It was fitting that she attached the audio clip to the ladybug on her slide. I know she would want me to write this in hopes that more people hear her message. This is why I felt the importance of writing and publishing this. I believe this message can also apply to educators who may be going against the grain and pushing new ideas that sometimes don’t fit in. It could also apply to a teacher that is feeling some burnout or that what they are doing isn’t making a difference. To all in the classroom and those impacting classrooms, know that your voice matters. Know that what you do each day matters. Know that you’re not alone.