Monday, October 20, 2014

Empowered Teaching: A Gift to Yourself

Heritage High School
Denver, Colorado

I used to believe that my birthday was a special event that warranted a full month of festivities and fun. Even though I am not quite as selfish as I used to be, I did give myself the best present I could give myself: a weekend around empowered teachers. I just spent my birthday attending the Colorado GAFE Summit in Boulder. 

Molly Schroeder made it clear in her keynote that just by being at the conference we are empowered teachers. We may not always feel it. We may feel that we are just getting started. We may have lots of hoops and bureaucratic red-tape to get through. We may not have the devices we want. We may not have the support we want. 

But what we do have is a community of teachers trying to make education better tomorrow than it was today. 

It’s not always about getting what you want or getting the newest devices in your students’ hands. It’s about doing what is best for students. 

So, what is best for students? 

You know. You’re a teacher. That is why you do what you do. 

If you still aren’t quite sure what you should do, here are a few suggestions:

Fail loudly: one of the things that many of our students never hear is that it is okay to fail. When you try new things as a teacher and they don’t work, let your students know that you tried and failed. Being a teacher doesn’t make you infallible or invincible. It gives you a platform to share your failures (but also share your successes). 

Live in Beta: This builds off of the first piece suggestion, but by trying new things and taking risks, you are admitting that what you have always done isn’t necessarily the best. With changes in students, we should have changes in instruction. Take a risk, try something new, live a little. 

Attend a GAFE Summit (or any other conference that would surround yourself with like-minded people): One of the best things that I could have done in my first semester of teaching was to attend my first EdCamp. I had no idea what it was, but I walked away thinking, there is something better out there for our students, and I want to be a part of that. Become that empowered teacher

After attending the Colorado GAFE Summit, I realized this: no matter where the education spectrum shifts or whatever referendums are passed down,  there are so many educators ready to fail loudly, live in beta mode, and to do what is best for students. I want to be a part that. 

That weekend was one of the best presents that I could have given myself because I know that I am a part of that. I am an empowered teacher.


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