Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Walk the Walk

When I get involved in big discussions, in the back of my mind I'm always thinking, "Am I able to live up to these words, challenges, and conversation." Typically, with regard to some comments, the related practice is deeply embedded in what I do, but in other cases, the work is more challenging--work I believe in, but still struggle to embrace with regard to my daily teaching and learning.

There's plenty of challenge when it comes to teaching well, and I expect that every teacher has that short list of professional goals they want to achieve, the goals that really demand the best of them.

Tonight's #edchat was about teacher leadership, and no matter what the opportunities are for leadership in your work arena, every teacher has the chance to be a great leader to the students they teach. What does being a great leader mean with regard to the students you teach?

First, it means, as one #edchat participant said, stepping back, and letting others lead. In the classroom this means, more of them and less of us. It means that you make lots of room for student voice and choice, and you regard their words carefully. This is not always easy since there are many competing perspectives and goals in a classroom when it comes to teaching all children well, following all mandates posed, and staying true to what you know to be true about effective teaching and learning. But day after day, as a classroom leader, it's your job to think about how you will help the children and put their interests, needs, and passions first.

Leading well also means communicating well. How do you enlist students in the classroom community goals and efforts? How do you let children and family members know what's happened, what's going on, and what's planned? Our team sends out a weekly memo to the learning/teaching team as one way to keep everyone in the loop of what's happening. We also make an effort to let students know what and why we're learning what we are learning. We give students a chance to affect the learning choices and processes too.

To lead children well means to model the best of whom we can be with good character and effort.

As educators I think it's a good idea to advocate for greater teacher leadership, voice, and choice in schools and school systems, and I think it's imperative that we begin that leadership in our own classrooms by leading the children we teach with the best of whom we can be and what we can do for them. Onward.