- Improving young students' talking skills in the classroom can help them work through emotional concerns while also strengthening their learning and equipping them to better explain their needs to teachers and get support, Jennifer Orr, an elementary teacher in Washington, D.C., writes for ASCD.
- Teachers can encourage students to talk and share by using picture books that help them identify and explore feelings they see reflected in a story — and that they may be experiencing themselves.
- Sentence starters are another tool teachers can employ to encourage sharing, using phrases children can return to many times to help them gain confidence in expressing their own opinions or needs. These may also be particularly useful after the challenges of the past almost two years of pandemic learning.
Learning how to speak up for oneself is a powerful tool for students and adults alike. Whether pupils are advocating for more time to complete a project or making the case to be admitted into a graduate school program, the ability to advocate for oneself is a skill they’ll use throughout their academic and professional careers.
Educators can seed this tool as early as kindergarten, where even the youngest learners can discover that their thoughts and opinions matter while developing the skills to share them. Students may also feel empowered when their teachers create more room for their voices to be heard and then see their suggestions turned into action or used to change a lesson.
In this way, trust between a teacher and their class can increase, potentially leading to more positive behavior while granting students some autonomy in their learning.
By encouraging student voice, educators give pupils some power to direct their own learning as they continue to guide them through projects, lessons and curriculum. When teachers make room for this skill in the classroom, they can ultimately help students learn to confidently express and advocate for their own ideas and needs, providing an avenue to process their thoughts and feelings.