The risks of putting your students “out there”

When we put our students “out there”, we give them the chance to shine. To share their ideas or creations with an audience. To discuss their thinking with other people. To make them and their learning public. It is inevitable that opportunities like these lead to growth, to empowerment and to deeper thinking.

However, there are risks inherent in putting our students, and by definition, ourselves “out there”:

  • Things could go wrong. Perhaps the students were not fully prepared, perhaps the audience behaves inappropriately, perhaps technology lets you down… the list is potentially endless.
  • People (usually fellow teachers) could criticize. Our schools all have one or two people whose instant response is to be critical. There are always people around who are quick to find fault.
  • Parents may not get it. There is little or no resemblance between the way we are teaching kids in many of our schools and the way the parents of those kids were taught. This may create tension when we celebrate types of learning that we think is powerful… but they may not agree.
  • Other teachers may get jealous and resentful. In every school, there will be handful of teachers who try their best to hold others back so they don’t look bad by comparison. Sadly, these people may not have progressed from the days they called that girl at the front “teacher’s pet” when they were 7 years old. Even more sadly, they are clearly thinking only about the adults in the equation (and mainly themselves) while going to great lengths to prevent kids (in their class and yours) from being given the chance to shine.

Of course, these are not actually risks. 

So ignore them. If you see an opportunity to let your kids shine, to challenge them in a way that makes them grow… to put them out there… do it.




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