Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our students are people first

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about how to make schools better - how to prepare our students for a world that is much different than what it was like when I was their age. It's no secret if you've met me or followed me that I think there are better ways to educate than the traditional ways that we still see in most of our schools.

I believe in emphasizing our students' strengths rather than harping on their weaknesses. I believe that technology offers us a window on the world and that it is a moral imperative that we provide resources for our students to access that world and interact with it. I believe that standardized tests do not reliably measure what is really important when it comes to student learning. I believe that the lines should blur between subjects and age groups and that the best way to learn anything is to provide context, personal reference points, and authenticity. I believe that students can solve real world problems and are intrinsically driven to work very hard to do so.

What I believe first and foremost, though - The thing that I think will make any school and any classroom successful, despite instructional strategies or focus is this: I believe that our students are all unique individuals with individual passions and strengths and learning styles and thought processes and lives. I believe that the only way to improve education is:
  • to focus on our students as whole people
  • to get to know them in and out of school
  • to care about them and encourage them to be who they are
  • to provide for their needs no matter what those needs might be, and
  • to help them learn the most about what they care deeply about.
The teachers who cared about me in this way are the ones who motivated me to learn and to lead a life of service. They saw the good in me, and they loved me for that. They did not harp on my weaknesses and take away my self-confidence. They encouraged my strengths.

I am thankful for that.

This blogger gets it right:

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