Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who is the "Student" You Nurture and Teach?

Who is the "student" you and your colleagues seek to nurture and coach as you teach? What attributes and actions do you prioritize in your daily efforts?  What leads your work each day?

I've created a short list that describes the student actions and attributes I seek to strengthen, encourage and develop as I teach each day.  Would your list be the same?  What would you add, delete or revise for best effect?

Student Actions and Attributes

Reader: Reading is an essential skill and it is imperative that students develop reading comprehension and fluency. There are many apt tools to assist students with "print disabilities" in their efforts to learn to read and/or attain information.

Effective Communicator: Coach children to understand and utilize effective modes of communication including writing, speech, multimedia composition and project work that is clear, informative, entertaining and demonstrates awareness of audience and intent.

Mathematician: There is a lot of discussion about the best ways to teach math. Currently our programs are led by a discrete set of knowledge points as determined by system, state and national standards.  The habits of mind related to mathematical understanding build students' strength in areas of organization, problem solving and logic--essential skills for understanding and managing the world around you.

Problem Solver: It's imperative that students have the chance to solve meaningful, relevant problems regularly in order to gain problem solving skill, confidence, flexibility and strategy.

Citizen: Students will play active roles in many organizations as they grow up. Developing a strong sense of understanding with regard to citizen rights, responsibility, service, and action will help students to later become integral members of the many organizations they might join or be a part of in the future.

Advocate: Students better advocate for themselves when they understand that they are capable, and that their learning depends on effective tools, strategies, coaching and effort. It's essential that students learn about themselves as learners, and also learn about the cognitive strategies, tools and coaching that will best support acquisition of skill, concept, knowledge and process.

Collaborator: Students must learn the skills that boost their abilities to collaborate with others in many settings.

Confidence: It's essential that every child have a sense of belonging and value in a school environment.  If a child is left out or feels bad, it's important to dissect that situation to figure out the root cause.  Then through a process of education and possibly environmental change, it is necessary to create an inclusive experience for that student. Belonging builds confidence and contribution.

Researcher: Students learn to ask questions, and navigate many tools and bountiful information to find what they are looking for in efficient, effective ways.

Strength: Through thoughtful, responsive scheduling and programming, students are given the chance to develop strong, healthy minds and bodies.

Goals and Vision: Through regular use of reflection, discussion and inspiration, students continually work to develop goals and vision for their present and future work and endeavor.

Recreation: Time is regularly set aside for celebration and recreation as a way of developing students' sense of joy and accomplishment.

Empathy, Compassion and Community:  Service learning, sharing and community building activities develop student empathy, compassion and community.

Hands-On Learning: This is an area I would like to grow more in my present work environment.  Students hunger for the chance to build, experiment, observe and manipulate environments in order to create and learn.  How can we better design and structure schools to inspire this activity?

Like all of us, students will bring varying levels of passion, strength and ability to the actions and attributes listed above. However, if educators consider these goals as they facilitate learning in both integrated and discrete learning endeavors, they will not only teach the content, but they will educate the whole child.  That's a direction I value.

Note: Heidi Hass Gable (@HHG) prompted me to combine writing, speaking, multimedia composition and project work under the heading effective communication.  Thanks Heidi!