Hearing voices

Today, I asked my students “How do you identify yourself and why is that important to you?” and they said…

“When I was younger, there was a time when people thought I had no future. Now, one of the things I’m passionate about is how different people on the spectrum are. We are not all alike.”

“I like how our generation is different, how being LGBTQ is normal.”

“I hear what you’re saying.”

“If you’re in love with someone, you’re in love with someone.”

“I believe there is a God but not in any particular religion.”

“To be honest, I don’t really know.”

“When I meet someone, I’m not like, ‘I’m gay.’ I never really use the word lesbian to describe myself. There’s still a lot of time for me to figure things out. It’s complicated.”

“I have a friend whose mom remembers her past life, but I’m not sure if it’s true or not.”

“We need to let H talk.”

“I’m a straight Arab dude…It takes too much effort to hate.”

“There’s a million things better you can do than be racist or homophobic.”

“I’m sorry I interrupted you.”

“You don’t need to be a person of colour to do something about Black History Month.”

“The whole point of a racist slur – any slur – is to offend someone, so if you shake it off, you undo that.”

“We are all different no matter what label you use.”

It’s taken us all semester to get here. Discussion is hard. We’ve used sentence starters and done four corner activities. We’ve talked about social media and parents. We’ve analysed our discussions (not a favourite activity) and listed successes & areas for improvement. We’ve used pennies to limit our contributions (put in your two cents worth) and mapped our discussions with twine and tape. We’ve had guest speakers and informal debates. We’ve practiced.

Discussion mapping: I’m the one with only one piece of tape – Hooray for learning how to bite my tongue!

The result? They can lift up their powerful voices and tell the world that they are ready to make some changes.

And tomorrow we’ll talk again.


6 thoughts on “Hearing voices

  1. I love the conversation map! Very interesting. I love how you have captured these thoughts. Do you have space to put these on a report card? We do in elementary but I’ve honestly seen a secondary report in Ontario!

    The conversations like you have recorded here always make me sad about a year ending. A lot of work went into making your class a place where kids can say what’s really on their mind. Do any of your people repeat with you? I have a chance to have 9 of my grade 2s stay with me as grade 3s for next year and I couldn’t be happier about it! (expect how to pick the 9…that I’m not to excited about.)


  2. Thanks so much for letting us eavesdrop in your classroom. I’m so impressed by what I “heard” and by the level of work that went into getting there. The visual of the conversation map is fascinating. I was immediately intrigued by that idea and considering how I could use it in my classroom. Thanks so much for sharing and for helping build communication skills with your students!


  3. Hi Amanda! I really enjoyed reading your blog today and was especially fascinated by your conversation web. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enlarge the photo to read the document in the center of the web. Do you have a close up of it? If so, would you mind sharing? I’d love to consider how to use this in my classroom.

    Thanks, and have a great day! Molly

    On Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 9:01 PM Persistence and Pedagogy wrote:

    > Amanda Potts posted: “Today, I asked my students “How do you identify > yourself and why is that important to you?” and they said… “When I was > younger, there was a time when people thought I had no future. Now, one of > the things I’m passionate about is how different people on ” >


  4. Whatever strategies you have used, these results are amazing. There are not many places in the world where people are able to talk this openly. I love the honest your students have. I sure hope they get a teacher in the years ahead who values this kind of open, honest discussion.


  5. You really are a miracle worker. Have you read Harbor Me by Jacquline Woodson? Your students remind me of the kids in this book. It’s a beautifully written book as are all of her books.


  6. Bravo! These are such interesting and insightful comments. I am amazed how how your classroom culture is so honest like this! You must be doing so many great things! This inspires me to do more with my students!


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