Recently I was asked what positive change I would most like to see in schools. My answer, surprisingly, didn't take me very long to decide:
Of course, some classroom work needs to be done in silence, and speaking is not a requirement for learning, which is why I say just 50. And I don't mean that I dream of seeing unruly classrooms, where students are not engaged in learning activities either. What I'm responding to is the fact that, despite so much research indicating the need for active learning experiences, students are expected to be passive in school much of the time.
The reasons for the lack of student voice in classrooms are complicated, and the responsibility does not lie solely on teachers. This change would require a major cultural shift in schools. Teaching in a way that allows students to be active in their learning requires a larger skill set than teacher-centered instruction, higher level of responsiveness to student interests, and more planning time.
Here is what I believe teachers need to create more active learning for students:
- Preparation that includes how to design active learning experiences that address subject standards
- Autonomy to design curriculum and instruction that responds to student interests and needs
- Time to plan creatively with opportunities to collaborate with other teachers
- Support and encouragement to take risks in their teaching
More student voices in learning environments is such a big wish, because it would indicate these (and probably more) important shifts in the way teaching and learning are structured and supported.