Teachers* have an opportunity to cultivate the future by inspiring communities of learners.
Last week when I read the Atlantic.com article by Michael Godsey, The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher When kids can get their lessons from the Internet, what’s left for classroom instructors to do? I couldn’t respond quickly or coherently enough. I wanted to shout, “So much, there’s always been so much more for a teacher to do than be an expert in their field and disseminate information.” The problem is we often do not recognize, own, or promote just what the value of an exceptional teacher truly is. Every teacher* with a room full of students has a chance to positively influence the future.
It is a big responsibility because your impact can reach far beyond the walls of the classroom. Your highest value has less to do with content dissemination and more to do with creating a positive learning community with an emotional environment that supports learning. An exceptional teacher empowers students to care, to see opportunities, to face obstacles, and to dare to engage fully and bring their truest selves to the world.
The transformative value of a great teacher is as an assets based community builder who inspires lifelong learning and action. Your given subject area, for which you have deep knowledge, experience and passion, is your vehicle to engage those individuals in learning, collaborating, and creating.
A great teacher is a loving human being whose top priority is to help the students value themselves, learn how to learn, and to connect.
No matter the subject, a teacher has a duty to help the students see their strengths and tune into their own intrinsic motivation, so that they are ultimately choosing to learn for their own reasons and take actions to meet their goals. We want them to become self-directed learners!
This can’t happen unless the teacher in the room knows how to create a safe learning environment, and can lead learners in sharing both successes and struggles, and collaborating to create new value for themselves and the community.
How do you go about inspiring communities of learners?
The teacher must embody and model everything they are trying to teach and to show that everyone in the community is a learner. The teacher must be willing to share the power rather than wield power. To learn from the students. To learn WITH.
You strategically move far beyond sage on the stage, and guide on the side, to mensch in the trench. You embody attitudes that will spread the love of learning and share your authentic self so the learners can be themselves. You are so much more than a tech or a content super star.
The teacher we all want in the room:
Accepts and embraces – not judges – the learners, where they are, who they are, with love.
Demonstrates unconditional love and deep respect for each human in the room. Helps the students love themselves and see their strengths.
Creates community. Establishes a space of honesty, trust and support that does not allow shaming, and gives everyone equal respect.
Lets go of controlling the results and wanting everyone to be the same: on the same page, learn the same material in the same way, have the same goals. Does not try to create little “mini-mes.”
Listens, empathizes, and puts the needs of the learners above the desire to get through the lesson. Responds to the emotions, and real life issues, and adapts as needed.
Gives context for the materials to relate it to learner’s lives and goals.
Helps students learn to learn; encourages them to learn to design, evaluate and share their learning.
Coaches, paying close attention, to help learner see how to build on strengths and discrete ways each learner can adjust, practice, improve, and grow.
Maybe instead of the deconstruction of the teacher, we need the reconstruction of the teacher who relishes their value as one who is inspiring communities of learners and nurturing transformation.
Transformational teaching and learning take place when you create a community of:
Honesty. Trust, Respect
It takes courage to teach in a way that goes beyond content and classroom management and values the heart of learning. When we, as teachers or parents, share our hearts, care for our students’ hearts, and are fully present, then each moment we have together we are planting seeds of confidence, building capacity, and cultivating the future.
*Substitute Parent for teacher, and child for learner, if you are learning at home.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, thank you for reading mine. Lisa
Thank you, Glenn. I appreciate you coming over here to add your voice. When do you expect your book to be ready?
Hi Emily, You are welcome, thanks so much for commenting. I hope we can get more teachers talking about and claiming their value to learn with, focus on community and really empower our kids. Parents, too. How we treat our kids matters so much.
Excellent, Lisa! Love it! It so resonates with what I’m writing about in my books “Education Can Save the World”! Thanks for sharing!!!
Thank you so much for posting such an eloquent response to The Atlantic article. I had the same gut reaction you did when I read the article, and your words have truly captured all my thoughts and feelings about it. Someone wrote in the comments to The Atlantic article, “if you teach like a robot, you can be replaced by a robot.” In your posting, you have illustrated exactly what a great teacher is and does, and why our greatest teachers will not only never be able to be replaced by robots, but will become more and more invaluable as we progress further into the digital frontier.