When Student Voice Says a Teacher is Awesome, You Have to Listen

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Few people in the education blogging and podcasting world do what James Sturtevant does: feature students in their content, truly amplifying student voice.

Check out Jim’s amazing Hacking Engagement podcast below and his show notes, which bring one teacher’s students front and center. As Jim says, “Buckle up! You’re going to love this episode.”

Listen to “65-Matthew Porricelli Preaches the Gospel of Student-Led Learning and his 4th Grade Disciples Back him 1000%” on Spreaker.

Look inside Jim’s newest book, Hacking Engagement Again: 50 Teacher Tools That Will Make Students Love Your Class.

The Gospel of Student-Led Learning

By James Sturtevant

Matthew Porricelli is a 4th grade teacher at the Mamaroneck Avenue School just outside of Manhattan. In this podcast episode, we learn about Mr. P’s classroom from expert witnesses…his students.

These kids are a joy to listen to and the things they describe should be standard operating procedure in every classroom regardless of the level. Matt focuses on these keys to a learner-centered classroom:

  • Flexible Seating
  • Student-Led Lessons
  • Passion Projects (Which the kids frequently reference during the recording)
  • Hacking Assessment
  • Student voice

Mr. P’s class sounds like a dream, but what really moved me, was the way these young folks responded to their teacher. It’s apparent that there’s a bottomless mutual affection.

This episode is golden for it’s outstanding suggestions on pedagogy, but there’s something more profound. Matt’s students are crazy about him!

As you listen to these wonderful voices, keep asking yourself, How can I create such a climate in my room, where kids absolutely love learning?

Matt’s work and his students have inspired me. I received outstanding reviews on my book Hacking Engagement. One review, however, was critical. The reader felt like my hacks were geared too much towards older kids.

If someone throws out constructive criticism, I try to swallow my ego and learn and make adjustments. Hence, I’ve had two shows this summer featuring elementary students. They’ve been wonderful episodes!

Hacking Engagement Again

Click the image to look inside

Let’s apply the Hack Learning problem-solving model and employ Matt’s students to a learner-centered classroom.

The Problem

Teachers are stuck in outdated instructional models.

The Solution

Emulate Matt Porricelli’s teaching style.

What you can do Tomorrow

  • Answer this question: What clues did you hear in the episode which would explain Matt’s kid’s deep affection for him?
  • Compile a list of ideas that emphasize student voice and determine how you could implement some in your classroom.
  • Take one of the ideas he promotes and weave it into tomorrow’s lesson.
  • Debrief students at the end of the experience.
  • Seek out a like-minded colleague who would be game to experiment with some of Matt’s techniques. This partner in crime can help you and vice-versa.

The world is changing at warp speed. Education needs to change too. Matt’s classroom is the classroom of the future. Emulate his fine example, and you too can have remarkably enthusiastic students like his.

Build your student engagement toolkit

Check out James Sturtevant’s new book, Hacking Engagement Again, available here now.

Author: Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longtime educator and the Founder of Times 10, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, the uNseries, and other books for teachers and learners. To connect with Mark follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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