One Little Word. It is a fabulous concept: one word to guide you during the next year, one word to filter all of your decisions through. Truth be told, we are a little jealous of those who came up with the one. But, the more we thought about it, the more we asked the question, “why does it have to be one?” (Disclaimer: Justin and Susie don’t always follow the rules or stay inside the box.) Sure, there is impact in focusing on one...just one. But the more we thought about it, we decided that we needed to expand this concept to, are you sitting down, THREE! TLW. There, we said it. Three Little Words.
The funny thing about our three little words is that they work for both teachers and students. Actually, we believe many concepts do. We love the phrase human is human. (Those are not our three little words!) From graduate school students to kindergarten students to professors to siblings, we all need the same things. So the examples and concepts we talk about below, we believe are applicable to both children and adults...all humans.
Drumroll please……here come our TLW:
Advocacy. Yes, that’s number one. We all need to advocate for what we need as learners, both as adults and as students...remember human is human. We can have the most amazing curriculum in the classroom, but if students don’t know how to advocate for what they need as learners, chances are, they are not going to learn or reach their potential. The same is true for adults, we need to advocate for ourselves too. Some adults need to talk out concepts while others need to process them alone in their own head. One size definitely does not fit all, and the more we advocate for what we need, the more we can shine.
Identity. In order to advocate for what we, both children and adults, need, we need to know ourselves as learners. In the classroom, the first step is to understand our students deeply. Understand that there is not just one story line about them, but that they are very complex and different. Through careful observation and true inquiry into who they are as learners we can understand them more deeply. Only then can we help them to understand themselves as learners. We need to think of the end game: how do we want students to leave our classrooms? It is all well and good that we understand them, but it’s even more critical that they understand themselves as learners. That is where the real power is.
Vulnerability. The world opens up for all of us when we adopt a growth-mindset. It is through the risk taking, being ok with the trip ups, the mistakes, that the true growth comes. If we and our students believe that mistakes must be avoided at all costs, where is the learning? Take for example a Spanish class...do you know the students who just go for it, speaking even when they are making a ton of mistakes? Those are the students who advance more quickly. Contrast that to the students who are in the back of the room and wait to speak until they are sure that they have every grammatical concept correct. On a ski slope, if you don’t fall once every now and then, you know you are playing it too safe and you are not growing. Plus, frankly, life is so much more pleasant when you are not afraid of making mistakes all the time. Don’t we want that for our students and for ourselves?So there we have it. Advocacy, Identity and Vulnerability. Bring it on 2017!!