Nurturing Learning Without Limits

A colleague recently shared with me a video about training fleas. She used it with her staff at the beginning of a professional development activity she was leading on differentiated instruction. What a great connection to differentiated instruction!


A bit about the video…


A scientist (aka flea trainer) places a large number of lively fleas in a small mason jar. You can see the fleas jumping around in the jar, surpassing the top of the jar on each jump. Then, the flea-trainer leading the experiment puts a lid on the jar. The lid remained on the jar for 3 days at which point the flea-trainer removed the lid. Once the lid was removed, the fleas would not jump any higher than the top of the mason jar. Ever. This impacted their offspring as well, who, when born would not jump any higher than their parents – they would not jump higher than the mason jar either.


Here’s the video, if you are interested in watching:


So, as I listened to my colleague and as I watched the video afterwards, I thought about how I would use this video to make meaning in many parts of my life, as a mom, as a teacher, and as a leader in education. Through this reflection, I ended up asking myself a number of questions.


As a teacher, I think about how I help all my students reach their potential. How do I make sure they are learning to the best of their ability? How do I ensure they do not put limits on themselves? How do I make learning open-ended enough so all students can succeed and stretch their learning. How do I reach them where they are at and then nurture their learning so that they take risks necessary to learn at a rate they (or others) didn’t believe was possible?


As a leader in education, I think about every single student in our school. A main part of my job as an administrator is to help ensure the learning of all of the students. I believe in every single student in our school. I believe that every single student wants to learn and is able to learn. How do I, as an administrator, ensure that each student is learning to, and surprassing, their potential? What am I doing to encourage the risk-taking of the staff member I work with? How am I encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone to reach for the stars in their own learning and teaching? To have impact on the learning of students, we must first have impact on the learning of our teachers (and other staff members).


As a mom, I ask myself, “What am I doing to ensure my own children continue to reach and surpass their potential?” What am I doing as a parent to ensure that they do not limit themselves (or are not limited by others)? How do I, as their mom, nurture their learning at home, outside, and at their schools? How do I ensure their needs are being met and their learning is nurtured and challenged?


I want my children and my students to surpass the lid of that mason jar. I want them to learn to their potential and beyond. It is my job as a mom, a teacher, and an administrator.


What questions does this video inspire in you?

How do you ensure learning in your home and your school is nurtured and challenged and not limited?




Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

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