What I started ten years ago (The Educator Journey) was important then, but has graduated to an even greater relevance in today’s society. We have pathways to tread. We have doors to walk through. We have lives that must be changed. The only way to ensure that we leave no door unopened, no pathway undiscovered, and no life unchanged is to be committed to the task at hand. What is the big idea? Do we want to develop individuals that are very good about navigating through a test, being able to mark answers down to satisfy a test maker? Do we want to build students that come to school out of routine or being made to come? Are we content with the limitations placed on students who may not be able to perform well on standardized assessment measures? Lastly, are we satisfied with the status quo? Are we content with filling the mold rather than creating it?
Pictured above, is an example of what I experienced last school year with a student, one of the best and the brightest (I tend to teach students to say this about themselves to at some point, begin to believe it and demonstrated it). The student said it at one of the most random times, unexpected, but it made my day. Why? Well I believe that we can cultivate the kind of classroom environment and even school climate where students cannot wait to arrive at school, talk to you, learn, engage and interact. Likewise, I believe it is possible to get students so excited about learning that they’d rather stay with you than go home at the end of the school day. What effect would it have on teaching practices if we were able to feed off of our students’ motivation due to their expectation of the unexpected as they passed through the thresholds of our classrooms?
I get excited about learning in the classroom and I have experienced how that alone can perpetuate learning for students. They watch. They see. They do. I teach grades four and five and students need to see models. They need to see examples of what to do and not to do. Often I use myself as the model. There are times where I will do the “wrong” thing or provide the “wrong” response on purpose, to give students an opportunity to call me out. I don’t know why, but they are so excited to do this!! But what they do not realize is, that I am putting myself in the seat of a student in order for them to learn from something I did or did not do. It may be spontaneous, but it always connects to some principle of learning. So, students learn from me and are empowered at the same time.
Are you committed to continue? Are you committed to see students break the mold or create the mold rather than simply fill the mold? I am convinced that students, when given high expectations, will take on the challenge and put in the effort to meet it. I am crazy enough to believe that if we, as educators, are committed to continue, then our students, by nature of connection, as well as learning from what they see, will also develop some semblance of commitment to learning. Not just learning either, but approaching every learning task as an opportunity to become a better them. Limitations exist. But so does opportunity, opportunity to do all you can, while you can, as a commitment to continue.