For me, the most rewarding part of teaching is when you see the satisfaction, the happiness and the pride on the face of a student who has just learnt something new. For a brief moment, you even get to taste their success and accomplishment. It’s a moment that often only lasts for a few seconds because achievement in one breath, means a new opportunity for learning in the next.
It’s what I love about schools, that they are places of learning. When we talk about learning, I believe that too often we only think of the learning opportunities for our students. I do understand that as it’s good to be ‘student-centred’.
I am not going to discourage you from a sharp focus on your students but I am going to encourage you to broaden that focus and include your colleagues, fellow teachers and even yourself. I’m not just talking about learning by doing more structured PL or PD’s. I’m talking about acknowledging and maximising the incidental learning that happens with your colleagues and your students. It can be in your office space, in the staffroom, at the photocopier, in an online chat or in the classroom.
It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, support staff member or Principal, every day there is an opportunity for constant improvement and experimenting with different things.
Last week I was working with a team of teachers and I saw that same glimpse of satisfaction that I’ve previously seen when learning occurs for our students. It was a team of teachers who were courageous enough, and willing to experiment and try something new. Some of these teachers had traditionally said ‘we have always done it this way’ but this time they were willing to get uncomfortable. This time, they designed a new experience for their students. It was designing a new experience, not producing a new worksheet that had previously worked for them and the best part was they did it together, in collaboration. They later told me that there was an impromptu lunchtime catch up, a few late night messages with new hacks and ideas, and then classroom visits in the following days. None of this was because they had to, it was because they wanted to. It was because they were engaged.
The end result was a new learning opportunity for all their students and for themselves.
The end reward was far greater……There were highly engaged kids who produced quality work, a classroom where students were leading the learning and a group of teachers who saw themselves as a team. Best of all, I saw happy teachers walk out of school proud of their achievements and eager to find the next learning opportunity.
It got me excited, but I can only imagine how they felt and the positive impact it had on their students.
I know this is happening every day in our schools, just make sure you take the time to celebrate it. Remember, if you do the same things, you can expect that same results.
How are you experimenting and designing new learning for your students?