Today I Chose Not to Share – When Is It Our Right to Share the Work of Our Students?

Today I Chose Not to Share – When Is It Our Right to Share the Work of Our Students?

I am spent. Exhausted and drained as I type this. My mind is swirling with thoughts that I cannot quite get a grasp on and yet, I feel compelled to share some words with the world. My students started sharing their This I Believe speeches today, a project I was told would be powerful but that I had never done before. I threw my faith into it, dedicated the last 3 weeks to write with them, borrowed ideas from amazing teachers like Brianna Crowley and held my breath just a little; would they really get what this assignment was about? Would they believe in something bigger than them?

When I read their rough drafts I had to take a break. Hurriedly written were stories of unexpected death, racism, bullying, and other anguishes that you don’t think any child, let alone a 7th grader should experience. It took me three days to read through them, not because it was hard work, but because it was hard. Hard to read their words and know that these are not just their stories, but their lives. And so I knew I had to protect those stories, not share them with the world like we so often do. That these stories belonged to us and no one else. Which surprised me a little bit as I have always been an advocate for students sharing their stories to change the world.

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Pernille Ripp is the creator of Global Read Aloud Project, co-founder of EdCamp MadWI and the author of Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners and Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to OurStudents, She teaches seventh grade in Verona, Wisconsin, and blogs at Follow her on Twitter @PernilleRipp.