Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Knowing Your Role: Students and Teachers

Knowing your role well serves to pave a path to successful teaching and learning.

What are your responsibilities? Who do you serve? What are the expectations? How can you grow?

I've written a lot about role definition with regard to the changing face of schools and learning. The posts have been a response to new tools, structures, technology, and potential.

So once again, just before the first day of school, I'm thinking about my role and how I understand it. To me, my role is to serve children well in ways that propel their learning forward with confidence, engagement, and empowerment. It is my responsibility to choreograph the learning with apt tools, meaningful feedback, modeling, and care.

To meet my role with strength, I need to:
  • know my students well 
  • keep the paths of communication open between students, colleagues, families, and myself
  • understand the content and standards with depth 
  • design learning with and for students thoughtfully and creatively
What is the role of the student in today's classrooms?

First, students need to understand that schools serve them. Students have to believe that learning is within their reach, and it is the job of the teachers, students, and other school community members to help each child reach his/her potential.

Next, students have to understand that they also have a responsibility to bring their best effort, inquiry, and care to the classroom each day. They are part of a learning team--a team that succeeds when everyone supports each other. Not only is every child a student, but every child is also a teacher to their classmates and teachers in the learning community.

A school is a place for positive growth and care, and students are both recipients and contributors in that environment. 

There are lots of details with regard to roles and responsibilities of teachers and students, and those details are determined by a school's context. Typically many details will be defined while others will be left up to the judgement of the school's leadership and team. It's just as important to understand the details related to your role as it is to understand the overarching definition, and the best way to understand the details is through questioning, observation, and discussion. If you're not sure, ask rather than act as that will also serve to support your learning and leading well.

I've done a lot of thinking about my role with regard to what it is now, and where I'd like to move. I remain committed to the students as my primary focus in education. I want to serve them well and know all I can about optimal learning, growth, and confidence as that's what I hope my service will bring about to those I teach.

How do you understand your role as a student or teacher? What details do you still question?  Where would you like to move with respect to role and effort?  These are important questions to ponder as the school year begins.