How often do you think about the culture of your school, or even your classroom? Is it a place where different opinions are welcome? Or do your students feel like they need to tailor their assignments to please your viewpoint?
Andre Daughty has spent many years of his career teaching teachers and administrators about how important the culture of their school is to learning. Yes, we want a safe space free of weapons and violence but do you go further to connect with your students and to notice their gifts?
Once example given in this conversation is how a teacher's comment of a student "talking too much" is often seen as a bag thing. Of course, there's a time and a place for focusing and students shouldn't be distracting from the lesson; but think of how a teacher can treat that gift of gab as a strength rather than a weakness. This student might be a born student council president or debate club star. They might also be a storyteller-in-the-making who needs some help directing those conversations onto paper.
Andre is also a firm believer in using your own experiences to personalize your writing. He credits his career in education with being a member of the band in school where he was allowed to express himself through music. Now he encourages students to use their own life experiences or slang in their writing to make the piece more relatable to their audience outside the classroom.