There is great strength in empowerment, and we can't forget that.
When a decision is done to you--you may feel angry, small, frustrated, inconsequential, but if you're part of the decision, you likely embrace it and live with it through both the positive and negative dimensions.
Just this week I faced a related issue. A child did a good job on a project, but not as good as her classmates. The project was going to be shown to a wide audience. I knew the child was capable of doing a bit better so I provided assistance, but she was tired and had enough of the project. It's the dance educators face when we coach students forward. She was unable to hit the mark set. Since I know she can do it, we'll try again in a different way next week. But before we try again, I'll enlist her in the discussion by prompting
- What do you think we should do?
- How can I help you?
- This is why this is important to me and I believe important to you.
- I know you can do it.
- This is where perseverance is important, let me help you persevere.
- I want the best for you and I want to work with you to achieve that.
I don't want to choose for my students, but instead as Emdin suggests, I want us to co-construct the learning and learning environment.
I want the same for educators. I want educators to have the time, structure, roles, and opportunity to authentically participate in the decisions that affect their work everyday. I want that mismatch of time-on-task and time for planning that often occurs in school structures to change so that almost every educator is responsible for direct teaching and decision making too. I know that models of distributive leadership like this brings us together with respect and responsibility for teaching children well.
We have the choice in the way we teach students to make them powerful or powerless. Similarly the ways educational organizations have the choice to empower or disempower educators. Powerful educators, I believe, mentor powerful students. Let's find ways to make this happen.