Empowerment

All three of the ideas I have spoken about in my last three blog posts, passion, inquiry, and understanding, have brought me to this final idea of empowerment. Wouldn’t now be the right time to empower teachers and students to remake education into what it could and should be?

You might say: Now? The right time? With all the uncertainty? Well there never is a right time. We always wait until the right time, but it never comes. We push things off because it’s not the right time, and then guess what nothing ever happens. But isn’t now as good a time as any?

Uncertainty is the rule, not the exception. It’s how we respond to the uncertainty that matters. That is a major tenet of Stoicism. We need to make teachers and students feel safe in taking risks in adjusting their teaching and learning in response to this uncertainty.

Whether we are in schools or in remote learning, the only people who really know what is going on in any classroom are the teacher and the students. Shouldn’t we empower them to make the decisions that are best for them?

We must allow them to use their passions to make classrooms and learning relevant. Empower them to look at curriculum through their lens and make adjustments that personalize the learning to them.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek via The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros

We also must encourage our teachers and students to question everything. Powerful questions are what drives innovation in any industry. Teachers and students should be asking questions that further their own teaching and learning. They are at the ground level of what can be done to make our classrooms, either virtual or in person, better.

“You don’t have to hold a position of authority to ask a powerful question.” – Polly Le Barre via A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger

If teachers and students are encouraged to us their passions and ask their own questions, they will develop a deeper understanding of whatever they are studying. They can use that understanding to push education forward toward what we envision: equity in opportunities for all children. They will also be happier in the process. What will you do this year to empower teachers and students to make education better?

“I encourage you to commit to empowering the people you serve to be part of the process of finding and solving problems.” – George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset

Inquiry

Our lives are nothing but questions right now. When will we return to “normal?” If we don’t return to normal, what will the new “normal” look like? Will we be able to have students and teachers in schools in the fall? If we have to do distance learning how do we improve on what we did this spring?

Here’s the thing. This time of uncertainty is nothing new. We had just become comfortable and complacent. Our future is always nothing but questions and uncertainty.

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.” -Bill Keane

Rather than going through life with certainty we should attack each day with an open mind ready to learn. The best way to learn is to ask as many questions as possible. It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or a student

We need to embrace uncertainty. Rather than thinking we have all the answers we need to question everything. Life as we knew it is over. We will not get through this upheaval as individuals. We will need to lean on each other, and the best way to find out what someone else knows and how they can help you is to ask a question.

As we plan for September inquiry should be the centerpiece of what our schools look like going forward. Our classrooms should be places where we teach children to question everything, not just regurgitate facts. No one cares if you have the answers to old questions. They care if you can find things that need to be changed, ask questions that help to identify the best way forward, and then implement the changes that need to be made.

We have an opportunity to totally remake education in a positive way. I think we all have seen that our system needs to be more adaptable. We become more adaptable when we question everything rather than thinking we know everything.