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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Teaching Path Continues During Times of Change

It seems like the world is changing at a very fast clip these days.

Global intersection.

Upcoming Elections.

New Inventions.

Changing Jobs and Workforce.

In my own life as the mother of three young men, life is spinning too as my children develop their own lives in this world of what seems like both limitless and limited potential and opportunity at the same time.

A constant for me is the fact that I will continue teaching, and amidst all this change, it will be important that I teach with flexibility, an open mind, and readiness to embrace the opportunities that exist as well as work within the limitations posed. How does an educator do this?

Self Coach
First, as educators, we have to coach ourselves forward since we are getting advice from almost everyone including school administrators, colleagues, families, government officials, business, and citizens. We have to be open to listening to the ideas of many, and then synthesizing those ideas with our experience, knowledge, and vision for what a good education for every child looks like.

Lifelong Learner
Next, we have to be lifelong educators. There's no way to teach well today without committing to a regular diet of good learning. In the best of circumstances, school communities will work together to identify top learning opportunities, support that learning, and create systems of share so that all educators in a community help one another to stay abreast of the changes and possibility for education today.

Advocate
And, educators have to be advocates. As we learn we'll see and learn about ideas that can forward what we are able to do for each and every student. For example this week at the BLC conference  I heard positive story after story about one-to-one tech initiatives at elementary schools throughout the world. That propelled me to write to my system administrators to urge movement in that direction. We have lots of tech devices and tools, but we don't have one-to-one as well as liberal use policies--the kinds of policies that teachers at the conference have been demonstrating in positive ways with regard to an impactful, deep, and prosperous education for every child.

Collaborator
Good education for every child depends on collaboration. Working with colleagues to best teach every child is essential as no educator can be or is all things. We do better together. As we work together it's important to advocate for the time and process we need to share our strengths, knowledge, time, and energy to effect the best possible learning opportunities for children.

Learning Designer
As educators, we do well when we synthesize our experiences, education, and collaborative efforts into responsive learning design for our students. This design includes creating welcoming learning environments and experiences with and for students.

Empathetic and Compassionate Servant
I subscribe to a "servant/partner mentality" when it comes to teaching well. It is our job to serve our clients, children and families, as well as we can. When we are compassionate and empathetic listeners and "servant/partners" we do well to promote a quality education for every child.

Inclusive
As we teach, it's essential that we consider and include the ideas, opinions, and outlook of every child and colleague we work with. The more inclusive we are, the better we'll be able to meet most needs and interests.

Honest, Inclusive, Transparent, Regular Communicator
Good communication is an art. Too much or too little is not ideal, but a good schedule of honest, regular, inclusive, and transparent communication serves the teaching/learning team well. Too often promise and possibility is hindered by a lack of quality communication--the kind of communication that serves to motivate and deepen the good work possible in the education organization.

Utilize Quality Resources, Environments, Tools, and Teaching
It's important that school dollars are spent well with an eye on providing quality resources, environments, tools, and teaching. Too often old factory models of purchasing and planning limit the potential that exists to promote an inclusive vision with lead time, care, and attention to what truly supports optimal teaching/learning programs.

As I move down the teaching road at yet another juncture, it's so clear to me that most educators understand that incredible learning resources are only a click away. Good knowledge related to teaching well is everywhere.

The key now is to work for systems of share and collaboration that make that turn good knowledge and resources into extraordinary collaborative efforts to teach every child well. How can we maximize our collective energy, vision, and efforts to create best possible teaching/learning programs and environments for every child? Where are we doing this well, and where can we do it better?

For me, that means the following action:
  • Continued efforts to collaborate well with the grade-level team to teach all fifth graders well.
  • Review and revision of the classroom design to make it a welcoming, inspiring, and creative home-away-from-home for every child.
  • Organizing, deepening, and facilitating best possible math and STEAM learning experiences for every child.
  • Fostering a strong, confident, collaborative, and caring classroom community where students learn to learn with optimal attitudes, action, and collaboration.
  • Regularly engaging in new learning and synthesizing the new learning into the learning/teaching experiences. 
  • Positive advocacy for updating systems, roles, structures, and resources to better support optimal teaching and learning. 
  • Transparent, honest, and vulnerable share and communication. The kind of share that acknowledges good ideas and the reality that there are many voices involved when it comes to setting vision and mission and moving in that direction with real time action.
No teacher is all things, but each of us can do our best to build a quality education for every child. That aim is a constant in our world of tremendous change.