The Expression-Driven Classroom

I may be a rarity in administrative circles, because I genuinely enjoyed cafeteria supervision when I was a high school administrator. The reason I enjoyed lunch time with our students is because it gave me opportunities to talk with students about whatever they wanted to talk about. I learned a lot, and on some occasions I was able to teach students a thing or two about life. 

In those cafeteria moments, I may have been getting close to becoming an expression-driven educator. In the book, Amplify Student Voices: Equitable Practices to Build Confidence in the Classroom then. In the book, authors AnnMarie Baines, Diana Medina, and Caitlin Healy share the following six characteristics of educators that promote expression-driven teaching (pp.58-59):

  1. They genuinely care about youth expression. Expression-driven educators want students to develop their voices in all areas, not just those within the academic environment. 
  2. They encourage and facilitate authentic expression in varying forms of progress. Expression-driven educators want students to share their thoughts as they are developing them. Thinking out loud is appreciated, because that process helps shape thinking and expressing. 
  3. They support youth to make choices about when and how they communicate. Expression-driven educators acknowledge student self-reflection and self-awareness, and allow for student expression within those contexts. 
  4. They evaluate youth expression intentionally. Expression-driven educators establish high expectations for all learners and assess accordingly.
  5. They Learn from youth expression. Expression-driven educators listen with an open mind and are willing to adjust their thinking based on what they are hearing. 
  6. They help prepare young people for the real world. Expression-driven educators understand that students may be judged by their expressions, and they prepare students to appropriately navigate the world beyond the classroom walls. 

As you prepare for next week, think about ways you can further student expression in your classroom. You and your students will be glad you did!

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