I am never one to sit still too long. It seems that to keep myself energized and engaged as a learner/leader, I need to shake things up and look for new opportunities and challenges. That being said, I have changed roles this year from that of being a regional edtech coach in our District of 10,000 teachers to one of being an instructional coach for new teachers. I know it will challenge me to continue my own learning and give me the opportunity to contribute to shifting the culture of learning and teaching in our Board.
In applying for the position, I had to reflect on a quote that speaks to my beliefs about teaching and learning, explain why I chose this quote and how it is reflected in my current practice. In my effort to start “learning out loud” more often I thought I would share my thoughts here and see what comes about.
“Strong teachers don’t teach content; Google has content. Strong teaching connects learning in ways that inspire kids to learn more and strive for greatness.” Eric Jensen in Education Week Teacher
In this progressive age of “21st Century Education”, I find myself deeply reflecting on the the future of schooling, the nature of leadership and the evolving culture of learning in our current education system. All are evolving, but at a pace that does not necessarily reflect the pace of societal change. We seem trapped in a tunnel and the fear of not knowing what is in the light at the end of that tunnel deters the transformation of a system and stunts the growth of the learners within it. This quote reinforces my core belief that regardless of the paradigm of education or the current pedagogical emphasis, the learning experience is brought to life by teachers. Teachers nurture the inspirational environments that open the doors and let the learner loose to explore and experience their own ascent to greatness.
Classroom leadership is not about finding the single best way to do things; leadership demands having a vision as to how enable all learners to maximize their unique potential and find their opportunity to lead. An effective leader must be a true learner her/himself that engages in the process of growth to facilitate and support the growth of those they influence. Breaking down the notion that the only leaders in education are those that sit highest in the hierarchy of the system is critical to the successful transformation of the paradigm of education. As teachers and lead learners, we must develop and explore and engage in effective pedagogies to collaborate, communicate, create and curate the ideas, experiences and insights of all our leaders past, present and future. Strong teachers lead this evolutionary change to build a system that can support an undefined future that is demanding a redefined paradigm.
Learning is innate. Unaware of constructed boundaries, children don’t know where to stop and what they are not capable of. They will learn anywhere and everywhere. They can learn amazing things anywhere, anytime and from anyone. How do we build a learning environment that allows students to learn what, when and how they want to? How do we also ensure that their developmental needs are supported and relevant, contextual intellectual stimulation are reflected. Learning is an experiential process that is individualized and must respect and reflect the learner. Learning and creativity should not be a threatening experience. It should not be a competitive journey in which the individual is discouraged from trying for fear of being wrong. The fundamental goal of education must be to teach learners how to learn. It is so much more than just the regurgitation of the information that is deemed relevant and important. We must teach students to connect the dots, not just collect the dots, so they can succeed and adapt to changing needs in a dynamic and demanding world.
How, when, where and who we learn from is beginning a metamorphosis. The needs, scope and scale of the so called “21st Century Classroom” must evolve to reflect a new global reality that is challenging to define due to the rapid pace of its own evolution. Information communication technologies are redefining the learning experience connecting everything to everyone, everywhere. Everyone has become the teacher of everyone else and the role of the “traditional” teacher has been redefined. To ignore the collaborative potential of the collective marginalizes the goals of education and the development of true life-long learners.
Strong teachers that collaboratively engage in and model the learning process are the keys to unlocking the greatness in kids. Strong teachers recognize that learning reaches far beyond the curriculum, recognize the unique context and experience of each child and cultivate a sense of wonder in students that is fuelled by their own passion. Strong teachers are not defined by the tools they use but instead by the relationships they build, the imaginations they ignite and community they bring together.
Jim Jamieson, OCT