Monday, September 5, 2011

Value Educators

If we squash the art of teaching, we are indirectly limiting the education of the next generation to the past when they so desperately need to prepare for the future.

Have you noticed that everyone thinks they know how to educate others?  Everyone went to school so why wouldn't they be able to give sound educational advice? I've been to the doctor too but I suppose you might want to give some thought to accepting medical advice from me.  To be even more specific, I've seen way too many IVs inserted.  That doesn't mean the nurse is handing me the needle.  I've been to Starbuck's but that doesn't mean I know how to make a white chocolate mocha.  You get the point.

The world continues to change at an accelerated rate and 21st century classrooms are a different environment than what we grew up in.  Not only are our classrooms different, but they continue to change and transform at this accelerated pace.  Educators are being asked to learn new information and strategies faster than ever.  Because the amount of information and research available is greater than ever before, the pressure for teachers to be experts in their subject area is immense and more difficult than ever.  I think the tremendous amount of transparency in education plays a role in this as well.

Teachers must exemplify the same 21st century skills that we seek to instill in our students.  They must filter information, collaborate with students, and leverage information and tools for learning in an ever-changing environment.  And perhaps one of the most difficult areas to navigate is the parents that pressure teachers to be something they are not...and shouldn't be.  This does not mean that parent pressure is a bad thing.  We don't get do-overs with children so we have to get it right.  However, too often parents want the education they had because that is what they know...not the education their children need for the future.

It is in this 21st century environment that great teachers are to be prized more than ever.  Although I would argue salaries often reflect the value we place on teachers, value occurs in other ways.  I have been blessed with some outstanding colleagues at both of our schools in Korea.  Teachers, value yourselves and your work.

Parents, in this era of transparency and rapid change, respect the teachers your children have and acknowledge the future requires a different education than the past.  Teachers have a skill in creating learning environments for children.  Ask questions about what they are doing.  Seek understanding.  Be a collaborative learner with teachers and see that the art of educating students is not an easy one to master.  As you engage in this process, you may find some powerful ways to come alongside and help your child.  And like so many pieces of art, each classroom may look, feel, and smell differently.  If we squash the art of teaching, we are indirectly limiting the education of the next generation to the past when they so desperately need to prepare for the future.  I am blessed to work at schools where parents place such a high value on their teachers as so evident even in the last couple weeks.

For some thoughts on 21st century learning environments that educators are navigating, check out these blog posts by some others and the related comments on it.

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