The middle school students were filing into the classroom, slowly pouring into their seats, settling their bags, and propping open their books.
Standing at the front of the room, the guest speaker launched into her spiel: “Alright kids, I’m here today…” Her affect was strong and her subject compelling. Unfortunately though, half the class turned off during her first sentence.
These weren’t slacker students or hard-to-serve learners. Instead, they were the stuff of legends in their school, specially chosen to serve as Student Tech Leaders who were helping their peers and teachers by actively improving their schools through their GenYES class.
An engaging facilitator, their teacher led the class with enthusiasm and curiosity, regularly challenging student assumptions and empowering learners to search, create, and share what they learned freely.
So what happened that day with that speaker after the first sentence?
Asked afterwards, one student proudly proclaimed, “Don’t call me kid.” They explained their reluctance to teachers who talked down to them, and their refusal to submit blindly to adult authority.
The culture of this school truly empowered these learners to reflect on, examine, and build their abilities to positively and powerfully improve their learning.
What do you think? Does it matter what you call your students? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
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Adam F.C. Fletcher is available to consult, speak, and write.