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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Sneakily Shaping a YPAR-friendly Classroom: As Subtle as a Post-It Note in a Textbook

Bonjour, brilliant educators! I can sense that you've got your thinking caps on and your sharp pencils at the ready, but put down that overly-complicated lesson plan because today I'm talking about something even more exciting - subtly creating a culture conducive for Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR).

Yes, I'm talking YPAR again! But no, don't run screaming to the hills (or the staff room), because I'm going to tackle this whole YPAR shebang in the subtlest of ways. Like a ninja. Or a really quiet librarian.

You see, establishing a YPAR-friendly culture doesn't have to be like staging a classroom coup. There's no need for grand speeches or revolutionary banners. No, my friends, it can be as understated (and yet as life-changing) as finding the perfect meme to express your mood on a Monday morning.

So, without further ado, let's unpack this box of stealthy YPAR tricks.

1. Share the Mic: Subtly start shifting the power dynamic by passing the baton (or in our case, the metaphorical microphone) to your students. Instead of being the only voice of authority, allow your students to lead discussions and debates. This doesn’t mean surrendering control, but rather encouraging a symphony of voices in your classroom.

2. Foster a Culture of Curiosity: Nurture your students' curiosity by making space for questions. Remember, in the YPAR world, there are no silly questions – only exciting opportunities to learn. Start incorporating “I wonder…” moments into your lessons and watch your classroom bloom into a curiosity garden!

3. Encourage Critical Thinking: Start posing questions that don't have a single correct answer. Yes, it's time to step into the ambiguous world of "what if's" and "how about's". Developing this analytical mindset will prepare your students for the YPAR journey.

4. Make Room for Mistakes: If we're going to venture down the YPAR route, we need to be prepared for a few bumps and scrapes. And that's okay. Show your students that making mistakes isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's a part of learning! So, next time you flub a fact or mispronounce a word, laugh it off. You're human, not a fact-spewing robot.

5. Involve Students in Decision Making: Slowly, start involving your students in classroom decisions. The color of the bulletin board, the choice of background music during work time, or the theme for the next class party. Sharing power can start with the smallest decisions.

6. Listen. Really Listen: Active listening is a power tool in subtly shifting the classroom culture. When your students feel heard and valued, they'll naturally take a more proactive role in their learning.

There you have it, my courageous educators! Creating a YPAR-friendly culture doesn't have to be a high-drama production. Like the best practical jokes or the tastiest secret recipes, the magic lies in the subtleties. So take it slow, be patient, and remember - even the mightiest oak tree started as a small acorn (just like the YPAR journey starts with a single question).

Here's to subtly shaking up the educational world, one classroom at a time!

Until next time,

your friendly neighborhood educator ninja

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