After publishing my TED-Ed Educator talk in July, EdSurge presented me with the opportunity to share an edited version of my talk in written form. I hope this piece resonates strongly with you and equips you with simple ideas and tools so that all learners you work with are able to contribute in a format that is most comfortable for them.
Let’s take a trip back to high school. Do you remember what participation felt like? Did you have to raise your hand to answer questions? Were you loud or quiet or somewhere in between?
When I think about high school, I vividly remember my 11th grade math class. There’s a huge whiteboard at the front of the room. As the teacher lectures, I’m scribbling down everything that I see on the board, verbatim, in my notebook. The teacher pauses to ask a question and I feel butterflies in my stomach immediately. My palms are getting sweaty, so I sit on my hands and hope the teacher doesn’t randomly call on me next.
I’m paying attention. I’ve done all my homework. I’m getting an A in the class.
But when it comes to having an answer on the spot, I’m scared, uncertain, anxious. I haven’t had time to process all the notes I’ve scribbled down. What if I give the incorrect answer in front of all of my classmates? I don’t want to be wrong.
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My friend raises her hand and answers the question. I’m so relieved. But, I also feel defeated. Clearly, I must not be as smart as her; if I was, I would have been raising my hand. Right?
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