When I first started teaching I thought it was the “answer” I wanted students to uncover at the end of my lesson. I was skill hyper-focused. But over the years, I’ve mellowed as an educator, as we do. I think most of us could agree it is not the answer we strive for children to understand – but the understanding itself.
Reflecting on how students, specifically readers and writers, develop an understanding of the art and science of literacy I’ve come upon an idea. Or rather an inkling. As a blogger in my tucked away corner of the web, I’m turning to writing as an attempt to hash out my thoughts.
Anywhere teachers turn in the educational world today we are inundated with curriculum, best practices, new practices, change, and a never ending struggle to reach our instructional goals. No complaining – this exists and is necessary in many ways.
On the other side, we have the children. The real, soulful, inspiring, curious creatures entrusted to us for more time in the school day than their own parents. We are their caregivers, mentors, facilitators, and ultimately teachers of the human condition.
Often these two facets of teaching seem at odds with one another. Yes, we want to improve instruction to meet. the. needs. of. our. students. But then there is the actual, acute needs of children that lie before us. In this teeter-totter dance of the classroom one of these aspects gets over looked for the other. If we focus on the academics, the social-emotional needs of our children can get replaced with pre-assessment, post-assessment, covering curriculum and data. And if we focus on the kids we run the risk of overlooking critical instructional time in honor of personal connections.
But what if our curriculum and instruction was a driving force for classroom and school culture? What if our students’ innate desires to explore the world in authentic ways coincided with our curricular goals? What if the way that we taught consistently developed both academic rigor and a culture of life long learning? I think this is what project based learning and the growth mindset get at, but I’m talking about more basic level.
If we can begin to envision the teacher’s role as participator, inspirer and leader of learning, children will follow. Are there concrete, tactical ways we can capitalize on our curriculum and instruction to create a community of life long learners? I think so.
Teachers lead everyday. Mostly, we do this well. But are we intentional? Are we purposely intertwining curriculum and culture, instruction and interest? Are we guiding students toward the understanding that learning is as much about the process as it is the answer?