Hack the Classroom | The Power of Poetry

– Our last speaker came at the end of our broadcast in October, and he did his 10
commandments of teaching, and it was so inspirational,
we had to bring him back. So I’d like to bring
out, fourth grade teacher from Nellie K. Parker Elementary School in Hackensack, New Jersey, Toney Jackson to perform
his original piece, Speaking of Voice, Tony! (audience applauding) – Everybody crushed it, no pressure Tony. (audience laughing) So, Speaking of Voice. When I watch this recording
back, I will hear my voice, and I will cringe at the sound. It happens every time. If it’s played in a roomful
of people, I hear it, and instantly look to the ground. And I try to distract from the fact that, I actually sound like that. Can anybody relate? (audience applauding) Thank you. So the reason that we cringe at the sound of our own voice recorded, is that what we hear, when we speak, is vibration that’s passed
through our vocal folds, exits our mouths and travels
around in our own skull, as it enters our own ears distorted. So often we think that we know our voice, but we’re wrong if we don’t listen enough to our own voice recorded. I know, there’s something
seemingly odd about taking time to listen to your own voice. It’s nice when others do it. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that someone is willing to listen
at what we have to say, matters enough that others
will put their own voice aside to pay attention, which cost nothing and can mean everything. That the act of listening
can lead to learning. Then let’s start listing the voices that we’ve heard the
least and then listen. Until we’ve turned their
please for acknowledgement into praise and encouragement
to speak so loudly that we can’t even hear ourselves think because that’s how we
discover what’s missing. So think of our mission. This is our mission to teach
is to reach inside of beings to find the passions that drive them. And if we’re doing it right, we are invited along for the ride. If we’re doing it wrong, then we’re not really
trying to guide them, we’re just trying to drive, and we need to get out of the
driver’s seat of the phrase, “student driven”, means anything. If anything, we are co-navigators. We’re encouraging them
to set out and explore as they journey. They will find their
voice, so resist the urge to just give them yours. Sometimes that’s hard to do. Realize that if you
just give them a voice, then they may sound just like you, and we already have one of those. So we need, we need every
young mind to stretch and open, like sunflowers in full bloom. It takes time and care and acceptance, that learning can’t be confined
to the walls of a classroom. Every child needs and deserves
to be seen and be heard. Silence should be a choice. And sometimes all the silence we need lies in between the words. Also, this is not a time to be silent. No voice is worthless. Even if that voice is worthless, it isn’t worth less than any other. Consider that if whispers, or the width of an open eye can carry the weight of our wonder. It’s not about pitch or timbre. If being heard can heal our
hurt or evidence our existence, this is not about volume or tone. It’s about how finding a voice
can feel like finding a home because walls can’t define
us, so home travels with us, even when we’re alone. And our voice is a vehicle. Often it’s packed with a
baggage that we’ve inherited the moment that your students
learn to leave that behind, is a moment to cherish. Let them wander, and wonder and ponder what they might say, if you teach them that
they are the difference between what is and what could be. Don’t be afraid to say that
patriarchy is a problem, that black lives matter,
that love is love is love, or that no human being’s
existence is criminal, no matter how obvious
all of that should be. (audience applauding) Because they need to hear you speak too, to know that you speak truth. It’s not about replacing a tool, it’s about changing a mindset. It’s about helping them
find and display a jewel that they haven’t been able to mine yet. We need them thinking outside
of the boxes that we’ve built. Teach them thoughts need
not be confined to words, nor words to pages, and
watch them go from talking about what needs to change
to becoming the changes. When I watch this back,
I will hear my voice, and I will still cringe at the sound. It happens every time. But just knowing that
people are hearing it leaves me the feeling that
one thought touches one mind, cos’ of one voice at the right time, them it’s worth it to teach
and empower every student to raise their own. Thank you. (audience applauding)

1 thought on “Hack the Classroom | The Power of Poetry

  1. Wow! Great stuff that inspires everyone to ultimately realize their voice. Technology has made everything something worthy. Teach with that passion as co-navigators-Tony Jackson. Visit Bots man

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