At Read Write, we strive to create a safe, supportive, compassionate learning space for children with learning differences. I thought it would be nifty to see what they had to say about our efforts. So, for our monthly activity, we started a “pen pal” project. Rather than writing letters to each other, they were asked what they would tell a new student.
Kids don’t often articulate how they feel about their learning environment to the teacher. We can make assumptions based on their attitude and demeanor but they rarely actually tell us how they are feeling.
Our “pen-pal” project was meant for me to evaluate the success of our environment through the students’ eyes. But it was more than that, I ultimately and inadvertently empowered the students. We received notes that read, “It’s not like school. It’s fun!” and “You get to express yourself here!” and “Don’t worry! They are going to help you read and school will get easier!” and “We get to play games!” When I looked at all the notes, I realized that I have shown them that we care about their opinion and that their experience is valid enough to encourage someone else. Essentially, I sent a message to them: “You matter.”
It’s always great to hear their feedback and evaluate how to improve our environment but most importantly, they know we support them and they get to support new students! We have hung these notes in the lobby of our office. The most recent one to be posted reads, “Don’t worry! I’m new too!”
Author: Lydia Price