Are you interested in expanding your comfort zone, building relationships with your students, and boosting the culture of your classroom in the new school year? Read on!

While attending EdCampFlipgrid, StuVoiceCon18, and FlipgridLive in the marvelous city of Minneapolis this summer, I raptly listened to dozens of amazing educational leaders and pioneers delivering thought-provoking statements, providing new perspectives, and offering game-changing takeaway tools and strategies for immediate implementation.

Whether in the intimate session circles of EdCampFlipgrid, in the StuVoiceCon18 audience at the University of Minnesota- McNamara Alumni Center, or in the energy-filled room of Flipgrid Live at Aria Event Center, the central theme being celebrated was the reach and power of student voice.

Check out these five key ingredients to support you in making sure you and your students get what’s needed to thrive as we start back to school.

1. Honor and amplify your student’s voices.

They may just change the world … if you give them the opportunity.

#StuVoiceCon18 morning keynote, Matt Miller, issued the reminder that each of us has a chance to change the world if we simply find, use, and let our voices and ideas be heard. As he said, “Your voice is your soul, your essence, your inner being” and the recipe to finding that includes providing “choice, action, and skill.” Let’s do that.

How? Start a classroom Twitter account and have your students create tweets that you blast out. Not ready for social media? Start a classroom blog using Blogger or a Vlog (video blog) using Flipgrid where students can share their voices, ideas, and feelings as near or wide as feels comfortable.

2. Free your brains of bias, make, and create.

We must be all about breaking down the barriers and exploring new territory.

#StuVoiceCon 18 afternoon keynote, Holly Clark, encouraged educators to embrace the information revolution as it guides Generation Z “to live outside of mediocrity, moving from being mere consumers of knowledge to change agents of the world through critical thinking and global perspectives.”

Looking for ideas for ways to hang globally with Generation Z? Head over to Our Global Classroom to join a conversation on world hunger or hope. Hop onto Belouga to join 2,124 (and counting!) classrooms from 82 countries to unpack the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals!

3. Visualize your thinking.

These 5 key ingredients will help you and your students thrive as we start back to school #k12 #edtech

Show your process to arriving where you are in what you believe, know, or feel.

Offer students the opportunity to visualize their thinking with #Sketchnotes. Whichever medium you choose—pen, paper, crayon, napkin, iPad, digital app—explore this strategy with students to add dimension to the ways they process, organize, retrieve, explain, and apply what they learn. You may change someone’s life by taking this risk. A picture is worth a thousand words.

4. Stamp your virtual passport.

As we embed the use of technology in our learning and become practiced digital citizens, it is exciting to be presented with opportunities for collaborating with learners beyond the walls of our own classrooms. Check out platforms such as Skype in the Classroom and Flipgrid, both of which offer supports to make connections and learning a global experience for students of all ages. Keep a look out for Flipgrid’s new #GridPals feature, which allows you to add yourself to a global database of teachers and classrooms looking to connect across the globe together with just a few clicks. You may find yourself asking, “Where shall I take my class today?”

5. Stay connected and have fun.

We grow most when doing what we enjoy. So follow that #hashtag, read that #blog, sign up for an online #PDSummit, and grow your #PLN. We are all only a tweet away!

For anyone wishing for more insight on the inspirational events referenced in this article, here’s a curated account of the experience put together by me and my fellow educators Rayna Freedman, Sandy Otto, and Evan Mosier.

About the Author:

Kimberly Zajac is a nationally certified speech/language pathologist & audiologist in the Norton (MA) Public Schools. She is on the board of directors of MassCUE and serves as co-leader of the MassCUE SLP & Special Educator Special Interest Group. Zajac has presented at various conferences in the New England area. She is a Flipgrid Ambassador, a Neuro-Developmental Treatment certified therapist, and a fierce advocate for student voice.