By Allison Zmuda
As we canvased the room to find out who was there, I was thrilled to see a group of educators from Newtown, Conn. where I started my teaching career. The opportunities I had in the early 1990s as a young educator to play, problem-solve, and fail forward were remarkable because I grew under leaders that encouraged that behavior.
It is just as important that teachers and students of today have those same opportunities within a community, especially considering the new realities associated with technology.
The “traditional” roles of teacher (delivering content) and student (passively receiving and regurgitating knowledge) can be rendered obsolete with the implementation of easy-to-access technology solutions.
This begs the question: how do we envision our roles within a modern context to prepare teachers and students for the world?
Here are six recommendations true for both teachers and students along with the related Habit of Mind (HOM):
Recommendation #1: Get off the treadmill.
When we keep going without a sense of purpose, what are we trying to accomplish? Simply increasing our speed doesn’t ensure we accomplish anything purposeful. It’s important to get clear and define purpose. Sit down and write a journal reflection defending what you are doing and why you are doing it.
HOM: Questioning and Problem Posing
Recommendation #2: Stop, smell the roses, and take a look around.
Breathe deeply and find a way to settle down. Allow for silence rather than jumping in to fill awkward pauses. As Adrienne Rich suggests, “The impulse to create begins … in a tunnel of silence.” Notice the questions that arise out of silence and reflection. How do you respond to those inquiries? Do you pursue them?
HOM: Gathering Data with all Senses
Recommendation #3: Be curious about something.
What makes you wonder? Find something you are intrigued by — an idea, problem, challenge, topic, text, issue — and think about the ideas triggered. Why is it compelling? How does it connect to you and your perception of the world? What string of information and ideas surface? What associations occur to you?
HOM: Creating, Imagining, and Innovating
Recommendation #4: Be inspired by an idea and go for it.
Design a question, clarify a problem, pursue an idea, and then take action. Might you use the following graphic to help you take your inspiration and move it to something actionable?
HOM: Thinking About Your Thinking
Recommendation #5: Contribute something to the world.
Set your ideas free from the confines of the classroom. How does your work have impact on the possibilities for improving the work and the lives of others? How does your work — once out in the world — continue to evolve through the interaction of others? How does the feedback you receive inspire future development? New ideas?
HOM: Communicating with Clarity and Precision
Recommendation #6: Celebrate the journey.
Often times we are too hung up on the destination. In the midst of your pursuit, you may stumble upon another aspiration, a different idea that perhaps shifts your focus. The questions that you ask, the skills you acquire and refine along the way, and the ways you process what you are learning are often as important as the destination you are trying to reach. What did you learn throughout this experience? How will you celebrate your journey? What will you do next?
HOM: Responding with Wonderment and Awe
I love hearing about your journey — please reach out to share your aspirations, challenges, and successes!
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Also, don’t forget to sign up to receive a notification when our book, Student at the Center: Personalized Learning and Habits of Mind is available for purchase!
See more posts from Allison Zmuda.