Well, a quote that has been resounding in my head is one from The Incredibles by Syndrome. (Spoilers coming!) Syndrome grew up wanting to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick. However, Mr. Incredible works alone. After being rejected by his childhood hero, Syndrome grows up with an immense disgust for supers destined for greatness. He decides to change his destiny. His dastardly plan is to create a way for anyone to be a superhero. He decides to market himself as a superhero by creating gadgets and gizmos to make up for what he is lacking as a super. He invests time and energy in trying to be what he is not. He's a big fake. And then he tells his endgame to Mr Incredible, as supervillians always do...
This has been the quote in my mind for three weeks. We mandate things to be done in the classroom, a certain rigor to be taught, a certain resource to be used. How can we enable teachers to have the freedom to be super? Most of them already are. We need to share our successes and failures with others! But in a world that is driven by data and the Common Core, how do we make sure we still have individual chances to be super?
I think part of the answer is differentiation for students as well as teachers. Teachers need the freedom and ability to know their students so that they can harness the power of individualized instruction for students. A good teacher knows each of their students. A good teacher accepts where each of their students are. It could be giving students freedom to complete an assessment in a non-traditional way. It could be creating a PD environment for teachers to access 24/7 in the comfort of their own home with their own families. The bottom line is we need to create an environment of welcoming learning in whatever capacity and form it may take. I highly recommend Adam Bellow's keynote from ISTE. Adam will encourage you to make learning real and relevant for your students.
If what we are teaching our kids does not connect them with the outside world, then it isn't super. If how we teach our kids is based on how we learned it back in the day, it isn't super. If when we teach our kids only focuses on the school day, it isn't super. If who we talk to the ways we teach is only within our own building or city or state or country, it isn't super. If we are only reflecting to ourselves about how we teach, it isn't super.
We are so willing to encourage our students to be super. Why can't administrators do the same for teachers?