This month’s #BlogaMonth prompt asks us to pick an issue that we are passionate about as educators. When I read the prompt I instantly knew the topic I’d choice: helping students discover their voice.
Each of us is blessed with a unique voice. Think about it, no two human voices sound exactly the same. That’s true whether those voices are singing, speaking, shouting, laughing, crying, questioning, or declaring. Our voices have much in common, but there is an irreducible uniqueness to each.
Much of education is focused on helping students achieve certain common outcomes and competencies. Alongside this important work, good education also needs to create opportunities for students to experiment with, discover, hear, and share their own unique voice.
There are many ways that schools and teachers do the work of helping students discover their voice. As I reflect on the approaches that I’ve taken toward this work, I notice that I favor creative writing and spiritual journaling. As the rabbi at my school I am responsible for all grades rather than a particular class. For that reason it can be challenging to find more intimate venues for helping students discover their unique voices. When I have a chance to lead a Tefilah (Jewish prayer) service with a group of children, I’ll often ask myself if there is a way to engage them not only in reading traditional Jewish prayers, but in writing their own prayers, poems, and thoughts. Giving them this opportunity and then hearing or reading their responses reaffirms my passion for the important work of helping students discover their own unique voices.