Students feel valued when they feel safe and feel that they've been heard. It's within that environment that they are free to take risks and grow. The same is true for educators.
George Couros (The Innovator's Mindset) says, "the culture we create for our staff is also essential because it trickles down to our students... If we want educators and students to be excited to come to school each day, we have to create an environment where they feel valued. Feeling valued doesn't mean that we don't have flaws and weaknesses; it is just that we do not start from that point."
At Pine Creek High School we have collaborative teams that are engaged in team building and collaborative work to develop that environment. This isn't a box to be checked, but an ongoing process supported by Learning Leaders, Instructional Coaches, Department Chairs, and Administration. The process in which we are engaged is an exciting one. The path may not be straight, but it has direction and support. For this I am thankful and I am excited for what we can achieve.
Click here for more on student voice.
Click here for more on taking risks.
As a language teacher, I always understood that it took a certain amount of vulnerability to begin to speak in the classroom: you had to create sounds that you may never had made before and you sounded funny, what would others think? It was an intentional regular practice to establish an environment where it was acceptable that we were all learning, all trying, and consistently working on improving and it was OK to speak. It often helped that I was usually the first to do or say something awkward (most of the time intentional). It was a practice that didn’t end during the first week of school, but one that became an integral component of my planning. Speaking is a natural part of language instruction, so I was creating a pallet where that could happen.
Speaking a different language was a risk, but it’s in taking risks that new skills and problem-solving abilities are developed (“Risk-taking”). It requires letting go of your comfort zone and guiding students into letting go of theirs. It necessitates an environment where it’s OK to fail and it’s understood that failure is a part of learning. Student need to understand “that making mistakes is a necessary part of learning” and “that embracing failure and overcoming fear are both a part of living well and learning even better” (Crockett). It’s the environment that we create which allows this to happen. That positive environment provides a pivotal role in learning, creates a sense of belonging, a community, increased participation and building confidence (Coaty). The result is that “students can learn and flourish in this environment because they feel empowered to take risks by expressing their unique insights and disagreeing with others’ point of view” (Gayle et al).
Here are some suggestions adapted and modified from Starr Sackstein’s article:
“Kids need to understand that innovation can only happen when we move away from what has already been learned and done and with some creativity and courage, we make really make meaningful change together.” Sackstein
I am a Digital Learning Coach by title, but lifelong learner by practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating, exploring, and investigating resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.