I was recently in New York City to do a little project with the Pearson Foundation. Part of it was to do some writing about 5 Things I Know. My five are listed below and you can check the original site for a few of my friend’s lists. They also did a video based on one of our “five”.
Kids are naturally curious and creative. This is an inherent skill that kids have and do not need to be taught. Watch the way a young child explores the backyard or colors a picture on the sidewalk. Through these seemingly irrelevant actions kids are making sense of the world around them and constantly learning. This is natural and intuitive learning and expands their learning potential. When students come to school we slowly take away creativity and curiosity and replace it with bubble sheets and rubrics. Rather than removing these natural parts of kids, we need to honor and cherish them to promote creative and curious learners. Learning happens in its truest form when students are learning through a genuine sense of curiosity rather than a forced sense of duty.
2 - Creativity and curiosity are crucial in learning.
Too often we change the way we work with kids under the assumption they don’t operate under the same human emotions and motivations that we all share. We talk about what motivates adults in the workplace without thinking that the same beliefs hold true for kids. We know that a group of highly inspired adults can and do achieve great work and yet we often don’t allow kids to work this way in schools. I know that the moment we start recognizing kids as more than a student but as a person we unlock their truly unlimited and too often untapped potential
3 - We are all on a journey.
Every one of us is on a learning journey in the same way that all of our students are. Some of us have progressed far on this journey and have experienced tremendous growth and success. Others of us are farther behind due to a whole host of reasons that may or may not be in our control. However, we are all on that journey together and with that understanding comes with it some obligations. Those that are behind have an obligation to learn and seek the advice from those further ahead. We have to be able to ask for help and recognize where we need to grow. For those that are further ahead, we have an even bigger obligation to reach out and bring those behind us along for the ride through support and compassion. Recognizing where you are on the journey is key but does you little good if you are not moving yourself forward or helping someone else do the same.
4 - Change doesn’t happen when we are comfortable.
When we are comfortable we are complacent and when we are complacent change cannot happen or be sustained. Being outside of our comfort zone allows us to experience new things and be open and susceptible to new ideas. It is through these new ideas that change and evolution happens. Stagnation and failure to evolve is the death of any industry and this holds true in education. Educational institutions that fail to adapt and recognize a need for change will fail. I know that I improve and become a better teacher when I am challenged and uncomfortable. As a teacher I know I need to challenge my students to be on the edge of their comfort zone and therefore continuously changing.
5 - Growth happens through failure.
Whether you are falling off your bike and getting back up or flunking a test and coming back to learn more, all failures are opportunities for growth. It is through these failures that we learn about our own limitations and set new expectations. The key is to recognize when we fail and how to go about learning from that failure.
As a teacher we have an obligation to provide a learning environment that not only allows, but also encourages growth through failure. No learner has achieved success without failing at some level or at some point during their journey. I’ve learned those that fail are those with the greatest potential for continued improvement and lifelong growth.