Creating a #CaringClassroom

Being vulnerable has always been difficult at the beginning of the school year.  Typically, my classroom is organized and ready to go the first day the students walk through the door.  That changed this year when I engaged in a new role as a Spanish Teacherprenuer at Fern Creek High School.  This position has enabled me to teach half the amount of classes during a typically school day.  The other half of my day is filled with multiple teacher leadership initiatives and provides me with much needed time to collaborate and innovate.  Along with this position came a different classroom and a new opportunity to grow as an educator.

Upon entering my room 110 and observing my surroundings, I had an initial moment of panic.  I wasn’t accustomed to clogged sinks, moldy refrigerators and rusty knives during my first 14 years of teaching.  After a few deep breaths and a great conversation with my colleague Masa Uzicanin, executive director of a non-profit called Sevenzo, I decided to engage in Sevenzo’s #CaringClassroom campaign.

I have always been an advocate of student voice and understand the importance of “leading from behind”.  Working with Sevenzo and implementing design thinking (thanks to my colleague, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair), I focused on building the capacity of my students.  In groups of 4, they agreed on a vision of what makes a true caring classroom, created a prototype and voted on a student-driven classroom redesign.

The #CaringClassroom campaign has made me reflect on the importance of student voice in all capacities.  Students need to be the driving force behind education and deserve a seat at the table with all of the other stakeholders.  Thanks to the NGLN network, multiple states support this idea and  empower their students daily through deep and personalized pedagogy.  Thank you, NGLN, for the opportunity to “lead from behind” and work with this amazing network of student and teacher leaders! 🙂

Kip Hottman

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