I was sitting on the couch marking final exams. Tears were rolling down my face. Paula walked in and said, “They’re not that bad, are they?”

Quite the contrary. As I read the wonderful examples of how students were applying what they learned in our communication class in their lives, it was truly moving.

With his permission, I share this piece from Také Hakii, “I’ve learned about people, my classmates. I’ve learned that they are all awesome. Awesome in many different ways. Some of them are funny, witty, shy, happy, strong, caring, out-going, proper … We’ve got it all. And through their body language during speeches, I learned the power of having a totally safe environment. Some of the speeches contained very emotional topics and without their total commitment to support the idea of a safe classroom, I don’t think they would have felt comfortable to do that. I think that’s a credit not only to you for initiating this, but to all of my classmates for their total commitment.”

The solo efforts of the teacher can leave the classroom a sterile place for information dissemination. It takes the shared contribution of the students to foster an environment where vulnerability and deep learning can occur.

I’m very grateful to all of the awesome students for co-creating  a space in which students could take risks, experiment, and grow in valuable ways.

Although a “great presenter” may inspire an audience, a collective commitment to respect, dignity, and curiosity can generate a fertile ground for transformation.

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