Throughout college the emphasis in our teacher education program was the importance of engaging learners. We wanted kids to be involved in the classroom and we wanted them to be excited about being there. The instructors taught us to not be the “sage on the stage” but to be a person who got our students involved and engaged. I had never thought about engagement not being good enough until I read The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros (2015). In chapter 6 of his book he says, “It is imperative that we teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning, rather than rely on others to simply engage them” (p. 96). I had never thought about it in that light before. If we only engage our students they are like the kids who are never able to ride a bike without training wheels. As Couros (2015) says we need to empower our students to be learners rather than just engaging them.
When I was in college at Elon our catch phrase was be a LifELONg learner. At the time I thought it was an overly cheesy motto for the school, but looking back on it was a great thing. If we are not empowered to learn as we move forward in life we are not going to be successful. We need to focus on learning as much as we can every day or we are going to fall behind.
For teachers this means that we need to focus on networking and working together. The big push in today’s education world is forming Professional Learning Communities. Couros (2015) tells us that getting feedback at all times is critical to our development as teachers. If we find groups of people that we are empowered to work with and are excited about the opportunities to get better than we will be better teachers in the long run.
Couros (2015) says in chapter 8 of his book that we need to focus on our strengths. Both teachers and students need to do this. There is a reason there are many different positions on the football team. Everybody has different talents, it is no different in education. For students that means having them draw if they are good at drawing rather than making them write a long paper. If they are able to show understanding in this way than the teacher should EMPOWER them by allowing them to draw. Couros (2015) goes on to say that the more we do something that we are good at, the more confidence that we build. Once that confidence is built up we will be more willing to focus on the things that we are not as good at.
What this means for us as professionals is we need to focus on what we are good at as teachers. Once we have that down we can branch off into things we are not as good at. Since we have confidence in what we are doing as teachers the failures we will face can be easier to handle. With students we need to build up their confidence with things that they are good at. Once they are confident failures in the tasks they are not as good at will be met with determination rather than despair. In the long run both teachers and students will be more successful if we approach school and our jobs in this manner.
Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity.