Power of #StuVoice, PLN, and Giving Students Access To The World To Make Change #bettpassion @zakmal

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because I am tired of my careless mistakes due to lack of caffeine in my system when I write at 4 am 🙂

Over the course of our journey with #BettPassion and working with a group of students known as @IowaHighFive we have been fortunate to come across an amazing college student who is working hard to change the landscape of Student Voice. As our students have traveled to a student lead conference ISLI a few weeks ago we met Zak Malamed via Skype. We contacted him to pick his brain about advice and ideas via Twitter and just last week he took time to Skype with my 8th grade group to give them some advice and things to think about.

What I did not anticipate was my brain exploding with so many things to think about as an adult, educator, and person. I would like to take time to share his words of wisdom with my thoughts weaved in because I think everyone can benefit from what he shared with my students

I have provided all of Zak‘s info from Twitter at the end of this post.

  • Not all students feel like leaders and we need to be cautious of this. This is a powerful statement. As my students work towards developing a student lead conference about leadership they have to be cautious about including everyone while at the same time realizing that not every student feels like they have something to offer. As we have worked through this BettPassion project the one thing that really hit me hard was how many students simply don’t believe they have anything positive to offer the world. This broke my heart and continues to break my heart as I help students find out what they have to offer.
  • Students need to develop and come up with 20 hot issues in education. This needs to come from the student voice. I think it is important that as my students develop a conference for students, they need to seek out their voices first. From there, the group can narrow down the topics. It seems weird to say, but it is easy to not include student voice when you work hard to bring student voice to light.
  • Education and Entrepreneurship – Really what we are talking about is helping students broadcast their voice and the result is this whole notion of entrepreneurialism. They need to learn how to sell and broadcast their ideas and do it in a way that helps others see their way. This is something that I am really stuck on as an educator. Students need to be producers and not just consumers, but an essential piece of being a producer is understanding how to market your ideas to a real world audience and not just a teacher.
  • Networking is about growing and formulating quality relationships. It is not about how many people, but the quality of the people within your network. For younger students it is very important to model and teach that networking is not only what can you do for me, but what benefit is it for them to help you in the first place? As I work with students I am trying to help them see that they just cannot ask, ask, ask, but they must also return something of quality in return. Essentially, this boils down to developing personal connections.
  • Very few understand Twitter. Twitter requires time and work. You must engage with the people and not just tweet things randomly. You have to work hard to stand out. It is not that people don’t care, but the issue today is that there is so much information. How are you going to stand out among everyone else? You have to persuade and prove to your audience that they should care about what you are sharing out. Part of this goes with the idea that you must find your relevant community. You cannot attract everyone. You must think about where your best bang for your buck is going to be and begin to work hard to find those people that provide benefit and quality to your network.
  • Life and the work we do as human beings should be about things we are passionate about. We must be dedicated to the idea and the movement. You must live it. Make it your life. Along the way you have to make your passion sexy. If it is not sexy and cool in appeal nobody is going to invest time and resources to the idea. It goes back to all the things mentioned above. You have to sell it!
After typing all of this up I am getting hyped up to challenge myself as an educator as well as the course my students are traveling. This sounds a lot like what I presented at ITAG a few weeks ago. Find your passion and run with it. Don’t let others stop you. They are just a small roadblock along the way. If you are passionate and believe in the idea enough you won’t let anyone stop you.

I feel blessed that my network has brought in people like Zak. Not only have I benefited and gained from his talks and conversations, but he is impacting my students as well. He brings a dimension to my classroom and teaching that I alone cannot provide. I close with the gratitude of my amazing PLN and for people like Zak to help my students find their voice and continue to push for the ideas they believe. One day soon we will be able to give back and help him and his cause.

I share all of this because as educators we cannot do it alone, nor should we. We have to be willing to bring in other voices and people who can speak from experience and connect with students in ways much different than we can. It is not that they are better, but collectively if we work in groups the education experience becomes better for everyone.



@zakmal

Founder & E.D. of @Stu_Voice. Social Entrepreneur. On Monday’s at 8:30pm EDT I use #StuVoice a lot. @UofMaryland ’16. ☮&❤. Zak@StuVoice.org

Washington D.C. & NYC · StuVoice.org

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