As one of our writing activities when we came back from break, we used the #oneword goal setting that was circulating on Twitter. Students generated ideas for their one word, and then we did some small writing snippets in different styles around it. I’m not a huge fan of making resolutions, but I do like goal setting; it might seem like it’s just semantics, but to me a goal feels like trying to visualize the big picture, not a task that is doomed to fail by February.
Seeing the variety of word choice also gave me some insight into what students value and aspire to. I was surprised by how many times ‘patience’ showed up.
Lots of annoying little brothers and sisters, I was told.
My own #oneword started with a list, just like everyone else. Picking one? Now that was harder. In the end, it was a good exercise in thinking about where you are, where you want to be, and how you plan to get there.
This past week, I had the opportunity to think deeply about my educational philosophy, working my way through the same exercise but in a more formal vein. I’ll share my #oneword another time (and once I’ve got some anecdotal evidence on how I’m doing) but for now, here is what I believe about teaching and learning.
Considering your educational philosophy comes down to knowing your ‘why’ – what you believe and value, and how that translates into your everyday practice. I believe in a holistic, student-first approach in education, where students are valued as individuals and empowered as individual learners. Our focus is always on what is best for them, and our actions are always guided by how it will best improve their learning. I want our children to be lifelong learners and believe that the way to create that mindset is by providing innovative conditions for learning, a safe space where trust is paramount, where self-efficacy is nurtured, and where students are empowered to take charge of their own learning to discover and develop their interests. I believe in the power of collaboration, building community, and embracing divergent thinking. Most importantly, underpinning and intertwining everything that we do, is relationship.
Lifelong learning is committing to a growth mindset, one where creative and critical thinking is prominent. I believe in the use of technology as a vehicle in which innovative ideas can be developed with limitless opportunities to share with others. Whether we are creating a virtual space, or the literal space in our classroom, in order for true sharing and collaboration to occur, students need safety and trust – physically, socially, and emotionally. It also must be a safe space for risk-taking, which may sound incongruous, yet is true. In order for innovative ideas to flourish, they first take shape in a caring and safe learning environment, one where children see themselves not just as a student, but as a writer, reader, scientist, or musician. Authentic occasions for demonstrating that learning are essential.
I believe that education must strive to create conditions to engage learners and their families in a collaborative manner, to develop a sense of community, and to learn within various communities both inside and outside of the school. Essential to that is building relationships: creating a dialogue with our students and getting to know them personally. We need to affirm who they are and visibly display our commitment to the success of all students. As educators, we need to model empathy and authenticity. Most of all, we need to unconditionally believe that all students can learn and do our utmost to provide opportunities for their success.
Have a great week ahead! Welcome. Tawâw. Tervetuloa.
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