Sometimes, I think we as individual educators do not realize the ultimate power we have over what we do. Oftentimes, I think that we wait for others to lead us and to show us what is out there. Don’t get me wrong, learning from others is essential. Collaboration in today’s world is imperative. What we should avoid is sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Sitting back and waiting for things to change. Sitting back and waiting for someone to teach us. That’s not how things work today when we have everything and everyone at the tip of our fingers. Knowledge is everywhere. Information is everywhere. Learning is everywhere. It is important for us to find and follow our passions and get out and learn. We are in charge of our learning. Gone are the days of passive professional development.
Inspiring people like Karen Lirenman (Celebrating our Youngest Learners), Gallit Zvi (Genius Hour), Diana Williams (Kiva), Iram Khan (Minecraft and Maker Space), Robyn Thiessen (Global Education) and many, many others have been models in what it means to take charge of their learning. They were introduced to things, got involved, made connections, learned deeply, and then just let these passions drive them. They allowed these passions do drive their teaching and their student’s learning. No one told them they had to. No one told them what they would get out of it, they just did it. They took ownership over their own learning and the, to a certain point, the curriculum and magic has happened.
These educators listed above were “regular” teachers or administrators a short 5 years ago. They were unconnected and here they are now, 5 short years later, each speaking to 1000’s at the world-wide tech conference, ISTE! They, and many others, aren’t there because they were asked to do a workshop. They are not there because they were presenting on something in the curriculum. They are there because they found something they are passionate about and started exploring this deeply. This type of dedication and commitment is admirable – for them and their students. This is the passion that makes a real difference in the lives of kids!
It’s the same for all teachers. The possibilities are endless. The opportunities are there.
In January, 2015, I listened to Karl Lindgren-Streicher speak about “Teachers as Change Agents” in his TEDxLangleyEd talk. His talk was powerful and continues to resonate with me today. He asked us how we were going to fix the broken education system. He described two things we needed to focus on in our efforts: curriculum and sharing. It is a powerful TEDx talk that all educators should watch. In his conclusion, Karl asserted,
“By getting out of the kid’s way and giving them a choice about what they want to learn and then letting them demonstrate in a way that works for them, all of a sudden, kids start to blossom.”
He challenged us to DO something – DO something each and every day. I would say that the same goes for educators. We need to get out of the way of our teachers who are exploring and who are taking ownership over their learning!
This weekend, I watched Pernille Ripp‘s Ignite Talk on Passionate Learners at ISTE 2015 on Periscope. She talked about her own child and how difficult this system was for her as she transitioned from a world of freedom and creativity to a world of structure and compliance. She went on to talk about the power of each teacher and said,
“every day we are faced with the choice of the type of educator we want to be. We are given a new chance to reinvent the way we reach all children.”
Pernille concluded with,
“School needs to be a place where children thrive, not survive and that change starts with us. Not administrators. Not politicians.”
No matter how much support administrators provide to their teachers. No matter how much time or how many books or how much other “stuff” administrators provide, teachers are the only ones who can ultimately take control of their own learning and the learning opportunities of their students.
How are you going to take control over your own learning?
How are you going to enable student ownership over their own learning?
Or are you?