Guest post by Spring CUE featured speaker Brett Salakas

“Greta Thunberg,” just the name alone garners a response from almost anyone you speak to. How did a 16-year-old swede become one of the recognizable and influential names on the planet?

Few high-profile figures resonate with 17-year-olds as much as they do with 70-year-olds. Whether you are inspired or triggered when the name ‘Greta Thunberg’ is invoked, one thing is for sure; she has reached an audience!

Let’s put the ideology of environmental activism aside…

There is a lot to learn about how Greta Thunberg was able to have her voice and views cut through the noise of an already overcrowded arena. What are the ‘meta-traits’ of this passionate young person? Her ability to engage with her audience, explain her point of view, and collaborate with others to create a genuine movement cannot be denied. In my Spring CUE featured presentation, we will identify these meta-traits and look at what practical actions we can take in our classrooms and schools to help the students that we teach tap into their passions, develop a deep knowledge of the curriculum, and communicate their voice to a wider audience.

This featured presentation will stand out as something different. Not just because of the originality of the theme but because it is incredibly practical. Participants will walk away with new skills that they can add to their toolkit and use in the classroom immediately.

I subscribe to the old ‘Ford’ motto that was entrenched in the manufacturer’s business model during the dawn of motorsports. Ford espoused, “Win the race on Sunday; sell the car on Monday.” In that same vein, I endeavor to, “Show a new skill that teachers won’t forget and they’ll have something to use in class from their new skill-set.”

We know from the research that has been conducted by multiple sources around the globe that activating student voice has a measurable positive impact on the learning and achievement that students demonstrate. There are several ways that schools can engage students as partners in learning. Sometimes it is through feedback, involvement in decision making, and by allowing some autonomy over what students learn, the way in which they learn, or even how they demonstrate that learning!

Student voice (and student agency) plays a major role in engagement and self-reflection. Even flipping the way feedback occurs can activate student voice and deepen a student’s understanding of a topic and how they can improve and develop their own skills.

By involving students in their learning and giving them an authentic voice, schools are creating a positive learning culture where students can develop the skills that will serve them during the further tertiary study and allow them to be effective problem solvers in the workforce of tomorrow.

As I write this blog it has just been announced that Greta Thunberg has been named as Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year.’ Already the reactions have begun; both affirmative and negative responses are flying through social media, including feedback from some ‘heads of state.’

The ‘Meta of Greta’ presentation will give us an opportunity to learn from her, but I’d love to start early.

Let’s get the ball rolling NOW!

Please reach out to me on twitter at @MRsalakas or comment below and tell me what students (or us as educators) could learn from Greta Thunberg and the stir she has caused in the world today!

Spring CUE will be in Palm Springs once again for 2020, hosting over 5000 education-minded and EdTech loving attendees at the longest-running, largest annual event on the West Coast. There are over 42 years of CUE institutional knowledge shared at Spring CUE each year – join us this year to change how you teach: CUE.org/Spring

Mercedes Maskalik

About Mercedes Maskalik