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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thinking About Learners; What They Need and Desire

I'm pondering about the many learners in my midst and what they need.

As I think about these learners, young and old, there are some thoughts that stand out.

First these learners want to be encouraged, not discouraged. With a strengths-based mindset and model of teaching and learning, we can always begin with the strengths.

Next, these learners need to know how to learn, and they can learn this with good introductions to tools, mentors, strategies, and spaces that will develop their teaching and learning.

These learners want to be celebrated and congratulated from time to time for their extraordinary efforts. The response does not have to be great to be significant, but positive responses go a long way when it comes to noticing learners' good endeavor.

The learners profit from good routines, time to talk, and time to let it all sink in too.

I really like working with learners. I like helping them to find their way amongst all the choices, dreams, and hopes exist. I see tremendous potential in each learner I work with, and I'm often amazed by what they do and where they're headed. That's a strong suit of the teaching profession.

Teaching Well: Fighting Discouragement

It was a great day of teaching, yet I left discouraged. Why?

Mainly the discouragement was based on efforts I hoped for that didn't occur. My sister would say, "I don't know why you think things that have always been one way will suddenly change," but forever the optimist or too idealistic to see the reality, sometimes what I expect is far different than what is.

Teachers get discouraged at the end of the day for many reasons--they may be tired, a lesson may have failed, a support did not arrive, or there was challenging debate. Discouragement will happen from time to time, and it can take you down if you don't have good strategies to fight that discouragement.

As I coach myself forward, I am reminded of the following strategies that work well to fight discouragement.
  • a healthy, positive routine
  • prep and planning ahead
  • realistic expectations for what you can do
  • celebrating the small wins
  • focus on what's positive 
  • strategically working with others for change, and knowing that positive change takes time

Is Silence Safe?

Today I engaged in a school conversation on Facebook. It was clear that my ideas were not embraced by those I debated with. I honor those folks' ideas and perspective, but I also honor the experience and context where I teach and learn too. When it comes to teaching well, almost everyone has an opinion, and truly, there are lots of right answers depending on context. The best I can do is to continue to engage in these conversations to both question and inform my practice.

Many might not engage in discussions like this because they feel that their words will not be honored and their voice may not matter, but when we stay silent we don't grow as individuals or communities. Of course, too much noise gets in the way. Like all things, there's a good balance here.