As we were working through our language arts curriculum this past school year, my kids were having incredible conversations about real world issues. Our units brought us to places where we discussed cultures and the impact of historical events on modern times, we explored politicians’ debate techniques and wrote our own campaigns, we analyzed literature for themes and undercurrents that reflected struggles in our own lives.
These young voices were coming up with solutions to adult problems. Our conversations felt real. They were real.
While I am just in the beginning stages of my teaching career, I always knew that I wanted my classroom to be a place where kids felt safe to be themselves and express their voices freely, while learning how to interact and dialogue respectfully with those who disagreed with them. I also wanted the learning to feel real, relevant, and important. This led me to seek out The Gazette for a chance to have some of my students experience a form of writing that is real and relevant, as well as be able to share their voices with someone other than just their teacher.
The students who wrote the columns featured here are a handful of kids from Wilson Middle School who love to write and were willing to put in the extra effort to write a piece to be published. It was a blast to go through a more intensive editing process with them and to have conversations about who might be reading their work (future employers, take note!).
I have adored watching these kids grow as writers and individuals. My hope is these articles show tiny glimpses into the hearts and personalities that I get to see every day: the compassionate, strong, thoughtful, eager, observant, creative, confident, driven individuals who have already begun making changes in this community.
• Brianna Young is an eighth grade Language Arts teacher at Wilson Middle School.