This week’s Cooperative Catalyst blog question mirrors an #Edchat twtpoll question: How can teachers have a bigger influence on education reformation?
One of my favorite songs relatively early in my career was by Whitney Houston, called: “Greatest Love Of All”
It began with these words:
I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
To answer the question, How can teachers have a bigger influence on education reformation?
Go with the words to that song as the first five things to do:
- Teach them well.
- Let them lead the way.
- Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
- Give them a sense of pride.
- Let the children laugh.
Because , if you do that, you’ve got the beginnings of a great community in your classroom that will spill over into your school.
So, what else can teachers do to have a bigger influence?
Teach them WELL–that means not teaching to the factoids of the state mandated tests, but teaching to the bigger ideas, the conceptual understandings, the processes that will impact and serve them the rest of their lives.
Think about your learning space and how it facilitates (or doesn’t) the various kinds of learning and interactions you want to happen. Set your students up to have access to the caves, the watering holes, the campfire areas they need at various stages in the learning process. The environment has a lot to do not only with how learners feel as they work, but the impressions people have as they walk on and begin to make assumptions or hypotheses about what is happening in that space. TEACH people about your theories and beliefs about education through your learning space design–and share it online so others can learn, too.
Teach your students how to think–specifically and strategically teach them how to outline, how to take notes, how to read for pleasure, how to think critically, how to think like a mathematician, an historian, a scientist, an artist, a builder, a tinkerer. Teach them how to read for deep understanding, how to observe carefully to see the beauty in this world, to reflect on their learning, their thinking and their interactions to know and be aware of the impact of their actions on others constantly. Teach them how to enjoy , how to play, how to laugh and then laugh some more. . .
And, as we teach well, and teach for deep understanding, don’t forget to teach the parents why we are working this way. Bring the parents along and try to involve your colleagues in the parent teaching you do. Share WHY you are teaching the way you are and make sure the kids understand, too. Help them be part of the PR campaign to spread the great teaching techniques you are using and the great learning the kids are doing.
Then, DON’T put up with crap from your colleagues. If they complain you aren’t getting your kids ready for the tests, show them how you are by teaching deeply, for understanding. If they complain you’re having too much fun, invite them in–find a way to involve them and their kids in one of your learning activities.
Oh, did I say don’t put up with crap from your colleagues? Well, don’t put up with crappy colleagues either. It is time to stop hiding incompetence and start demanding excellence from all of us. We can’t ask for respect for those on the outside if we can’t trust in our own profession to do right by kids and meaningful learning.
When we hear people say the best three things about teaching are June, July and August, we should ask them if they need help finding another job.
When we see or hear about decisions that are not in the best interests of kids, we should question those bad decisions–PUBLICLY. And we should keep questioning them until others begin to question them, too. Then we should offer better suggestions to the problem or the question that caused the bad decisions in the first place.
The most important act we can take to have a bigger influence on education reformation from our classrooms is to teach ALL kids. Teach them all to believe in themselves as learners and thinkers and find ways to help them be successful at that, so they begin to internalize those learning skills, those habits of mind that lead to deep learning. Find ways to reach even the most difficult or most reluctant learner. Just teach them ALL and watch the powers that be take note and begin to watch… and ask questions… and maybe even learn.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of what teachers can do in school or from their classroom to have a bigger impact on education reform–but there are 6 more bloggers yet to come writing to this same question. Enjoy…and be thoughtful as to how you can share what you are doing with us as well as your own community!