“Your legacy as an educator is always determined by what your students do. You change the world by empowering your students to do the same.”
― John Spencer, Empower: What Happens When Student Own Their Learning
Around the world there are a variety of strategies being implemented to keep students engaged and reintroduced into learning. From sending packets of worksheets home to creating virtual classrooms with a strong recipe of Zoom and an LMS, add a side of school lunch and we have "pandemic school". However, the reality is that the conclusion of this school year (like every other event around the world) must look different than it ever has before. Your classroom and school hallways will never be the same.
I see this as an opportunity...
Not only should we be creating moments of Empowered Discovery for our students, but also for yourself as a teacher. For the longest time, the education world has been one that overall has been very stagnant. Since the inception of the blackboard, there have been changes to the structure of the classroom but the practice has been very similar for decades. There are an inspiring group of teachers who have written books and present at conferences about the innovative ideas of how they challenge the status quo of education, but it is to a small population. It's time for a global change. This is forced innovation.
Empowered Discovery is providing a pathway for the students to embark on. A journey of learning where the goal is the experience rather than the grade. How can we empower our students to own their learning and discover new and radical ideas?
We can easily focus on the challenges, but it’s time to stand tall and discover new ways to entice learning from our students through your creativity and planning.
Erwin McManus is quoted saying, “ True creativity does not come easily; creativity is born of risk and refined from failure.” -The Artisan Soul
There has been an avalanche of tools for teachers to use in this new form of education. The tools exist for teachers to stretch beyond the creative constraints that traditional education has given. Now is the time to create interactive, empowering learning experiences for their students. What if you could accomplish multiple standards with a single discovery activity vs. a packet of worksheets? Now is the time scratch that creative itch that has been moving through the back of your mind this past semester. Maybe it’s a new tool, maybe you have learned about App Smashing, maybe it is a strategy that you read about, or an original idea that you were just waiting for permission to unleash.
Now is the time!
Empowered Discovery is opening the door for students to dive into learning with a fresh perspective. Please don’t plan on sitting your students in front of a screen for 6 hours a day. What can they build, create, investigate, and question around their house that can connect to your social studies lesson or your science lab? How can you illustrate math in the real world, with what is happening, rather than on a textbook?
If you were a student, unable to hang out with your friends, what would be an engaging learning experience that you would be interested in?
Empowered Discovery is Messy!
Mr. Rogers is quoted saying, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Let the Empowered Discovery be influenced by Play. Messy in nature, and simply a door for our students to walk through as they learn in this new environment.
Discoveries can change the world. Why not empower our students, the gatekeepers of the future, to do that now?
Taylor currently serves as a Coordinator of Innovative Learning for a mid-sized school district in Texas. He is a speaker, writer, and coach for all who are in conflict with the status quo.