Saturday, December 19, 2015

Student Voice and Agency - 'Pushing the Edge'

A short time ago I got asked by Greg Curran, mastermind behind  Pushing the Edge Consulting, if I would mind being interviewed for a podcast.

Initially I was a bit sceptical.

Not because I didn't believe in Greg, who does great things, but more because I wasn't sure I had anything worthy to share in a podcast.  I had listened to quite a few of Greg's interviews previously (I would highly recommend checking out his podcasts as they are brilliant) and I had some doubtful moments where I was concerned that no one would want to hear my wonderings, passionate ramblings and blunt challenges.

However, it was an awesome experience.

There are some learnings from this experience - I feel terribly sorry for Greg as it must have been a nightmare for him to sort out, edit and publish the final podcast.  We were meant to be talking about innovation and the Innovations team I had set up, and perhaps coaching, but in typical 'me' style, I became terribly animated about student voice, choice and agency (something I very passionate about) and I started rattling on.  

If I did it again I would pause more, stick to the topic and make it less of a nightmare to edit!! (sorry Greg)  I was pretty passionate about some of the topics, and Greg asked pertinent questions that in some respects I could have talked about for hours.  I am very impressed with how he cut the podcast because I know how hard it was to stop me from talking!  It is very lucky we did not talk coaching and innovation in the end because it would have been massive!

As I listened to the podcast, I forgot I was listening to myself - especially when I spoke about the vulnerable students.  (this was after I got over hearing myself sound a bit strange) As I heard myself, I am pleased to say I agreed with myself!  (Whew!)  It is true that I ask some big questions of people, and some of them are challenging, but I do not apologise for it.  All of our students are worth the same investment and all of our students deserve the best teacher they can have in front of them.


So, if you would like to be challenged, listen to me talk about things that I am passionate about and perhaps get a few hints that are useful for your school.

 - here is the link to the page.   

Whats inside the podcast: 

Discussion around these themes:

  • Internal Self Review Processes - asking questions of yourself, your team and your community to check in on what you are doing to make sure that you are doing what you say or think you are doing
  • Ways to get involved with this self review process
  • Community engagement - that old age chestnut - one which we all struggle with
  • Student voice/agency
  • Student ambassadors and using them to assist with employing new teachers
  • Challenging students and those who are most vulnerable

Some questions for you:

As a teacher, are you doing all that you can to give your students the best teacher?  

Are you challenging what you do, how you do and why you do it?

Do you ask your students for feedback, then act on what you find out?  

Do you ask them what they want to write about, what they think of your teaching, and what could happen in their school?  Then act on it?

Do you find alternative ways to support those students who are most challenging?  (this is the link to the blog post Greg uses as a catalyst for his podcast on challenging students "The Loss of Potential") 

My favourite quote from the podcast: 

"Schools are not built for adults they are built for students so shouldn't we be asking them?" (Me 2015)

Further reading should you take up the challenge:

How Challenging Students Teach Us.

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