Voice & Choice.

I woke up at 3 AM and could not fall back asleep. It’s one of those more restless nights and after reading a little and doing some sleepless night yoga-I opened my email.

I know, I know. Probably not the best way to create a boundary with work but I read these words.

“I feel very strongly about this and your class has made me feel like I have a voice.”

Students listening to their classmate read, “She Persisted”.

My student’s email (that was sent at an appropriate time, not like the time it was being read at) delighted and scared me all at once.

Voice.

Student voice and choice are things I find myself preaching to myself often. I believe this is in part to the fact that my mother’s voice is one of the loudest ones in my life. She’s also a teacher. Go figure. So often I will just hear her words. She talks about the power of choices with students and lifting up their voices frequently and intentionally.

It keeps me going when I see that we as adults forget and think our voices are the most important. (Guilty.)

Honestly, I have watched my co-teacher do this for years and I have learned from her. is to bring kids into the conversation and work it out with them. Helping them to edit or adjust where necessary and lifting their voices when we can.

Instead, giving kids a voice can feel dangerous and truthfully, it is dangerous if done without intention or wisdom. For example, if I simply told my students, “Ok you can talk about anything you want, you don’t even need to run it by me.”

This particular student wants to talk about females and sexual harassment.

She quickly expressed, “I have been doing my research and I will present this voluntarily, not even for points.”

I cannot put into words the level of joy her words brought me and to tell you the truth, instant affirmation that I am in exactly the right place.

This past year has not been easy. On any of us. But the lovely part of this is that we are met in those messy, broken, hard seasons.

Here’s to you, dear reader, and all the wonderful things you will do to make the people in your life feel cared for. Right now we are given an opportunity this week or really every week to be empowered people who empower those around us.

And in case no one told you this week, you are a superhero. Go make a difference in this world.

With Love,

Justina

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