One of the ongoing challenges for teachers in the 21st century is to be willing to change and grow. The world of education is evolving every day. There are always new tools to help students learn and communicate their ideas. There are new avenues for collaboration and understanding. There are new discoveries about the brain and how to best support students. As teachers, we need to be learning and changing ourselves, as educators, so that we can facilite the learning that our students need to do.
Yesterday, Chris Lehman, the principal of Science Leadership Academy, came to lead our in-service today. (Follow Chris on Twitter, if you don’t already!) Chris spoke about how we can not expect our students to be transformed in our classes if we are not willing to be transformed ourselves. We have to be part of the transformation that we want to take place in our schools and in our students. We must be willing to grow and change if we want to create an environment where students feel safe enough to come along on the journey. When I live the challenges of being a learner, then I am able to create a creative and a safe environment within which students can learn. When I move beyond being the “expert” in the room and take on the role of inquirer, then transformation can happen for me and for my students.
I know that I am a better teacher when I am learning. In those times, I am out of my depth. There are issues that I do not understand or tools that I can not figure out. I am confused, and I have to struggle to understand. The experience of not knowing, of being lost, is critical for good educators. We place students in that situation all of the time. We need to remember what it is like, rather than simply enjoy the comfort of our previous learning and successes. When we learn and grow, we can support the learning and growth of our students.
I have learned so much from the teachers that I interact with online. They provide me with new ideas and new challenges. They support me when I am confused and offer advice to help me find my way through. When I allow myself to be too busy to learn and grow with them, then my students suffer. We are all busy, but there are choices that have to be made if we want to maintain in a place of transformation. We need to make the commitment to daily growth. When we do that, our students benefit. Our learning and inquiry leads to our being better teachers, ones who create transformational classrooms and schools.
So it is back to learning, back to the times of confusion and doubt and on to transformation!