By Dr. Julie Padilla | Categories All | Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Equity | Inclusion | Listening | Results | Social Emotional Learning | Writing | May 7, 2021

Every single day we are tasked with ensuring that our students are entering into our building safely, that they are to learn wholeheartedly, and that they get to experience a wide variety of knowledge along the way. In doing this, as educators one of the pivotal roles we play is to promote classroom conversations. These discussions, these special moments of discourse, are necessary to allow students the time to pull apart their own ideas, formulate their own opinions, and better understand others. We have seen the world swiftly change in the past year, more than we ever thought it would. We want to be sure to do our part to provide a forum of opportunity for our students to speak about real-world events. In doing this effectively, there are three main approaches that should be taken into account across grade and content levels:

Establishing norms

Classroom rules and norms are a regularly occurrence, but we want to be sure we revisit them before conversations. Our students need safe community spaces to process information, so having set expectations for when students can speak, how they can address each other respectfully and mindfully, and how it can foster a positive classroom culture are all critical.

Role as a Facilitator

The classroom teacher needs to take ownership of the facilitator role. No matter what age your students are, it is easy to want to jump in and help a student clarify their own thought. But as a facilitator, as furthering this classroom conversation, it involves taking a big step back and not influencing or exerting an opinion or stance. Allow your young people to take the mic, to process their thoughts, and use their own words to inform you. This should be a big moment as they work through their own pieces of information, their own views, and find their footing.


As you wrap up these conversations, we want to be sure to tie back to those classroom norms and expectations. We are all growing, we are all learning, we are all evolving, from students to adults. Reassure them that while differences exist, it is the power of understanding one another and having respectful conversations that allows us to make change.

These necessary conversations establish and support the classroom community. They allow for relationships to thrive, for inspiration to occur, and for student engagement to be accelerated. It shows students that we know they are aware of what is going on in the world today, and we want to be there for them in any capacity that we can. It shows students we care.

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By Dr. Julie Padilla

Dr. Julie Padilla has been a passionate educator for over
a decade. As a first-generation college graduate, Dr.
Padilla earned her Bachelor of Arts dual degree in
History and Social Studies Education 7-12 from Syracuse
University. She proceeded to earn her Master of Science
from Syracuse as well, in Literacy Education 5-12. In
2017, she completed a second Master’s degree in School
Building and School District Leadership from Touro
College. More recently, Dr. Padilla completed her
doctoral studies from Northeastern University in
Educational Leadership with a concentration in
Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership.
Working as a Social Studies and Literacy teacher for at-risk
youth ages 14-21 at the beginning of her career, Dr.
Padilla gained an invaluable amount of experience. For
her work, she was awarded SmileDirectClub and the New
York Yankees’ Community Hero Spotlight in 2019. She
currently works as an Assistant Principal of a Pre-K
through 7th grade school located in New York City. You can connect with Dr. Padilla on LinkedIn.

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