Shifting Our Thinking

As the role of the educator evolves, the human connection and guidance will become increasingly more—not less—important. Katie M Martin in Learner Centered Innovation

Teachers are traditionally put into a role of being the expert. As primary teachers, we know how reading happens, and how to begin to write . And we teach that process to our students step by step. We show them how to add and subtract, and how to solve mathematical problems. We share our knowledge of the world with them. But in reality, there is so much more in the world we don’t know. Yet, our job is to teach. So, we teach our students to ask questions, and find solutions: we teach them to work together and listen to others because two brains are smarter than one. We teach them how to think about their learning and how to share what they know with others . However, recognizing that we don’t have all the answers is the first step for teachers towards growing as learners.

As teachers, we need to shift from being the only expert in the classroom to recognizing the strengths and expertise in others . One thing I adore about first graders is their willingness to take a risk. If they fail, most often they dust themselves off and try again. Some students “get it“ the first time they try, while others need several tries, and still others need more guidance. It’s time we make that shift in teaching and learning, challenge our perceptions of what a classroom should look like, and focus on our learners. Give them what they need and allow them some voice in how they work toward their goals.

“Our methods can and should move flexibly from direct teaching to collaborative …approaches based on the needs of the learners and the desired goals. -KatieM Martin

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