Learning is a non-linear process that requires trust, collaboration, failure, and exploration. Every individual learns in a unique way and it is my job to build relationships with each of my students to understand how they learn best and provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed. I see it as my responsibility to nurture the talents that each learner brings into our shared space so that they may realize their full potential. I not only want every learner to succeed in their academic and professional lives, but I also work to support the social-emotional development of every learner. In this way, I think of my role as a coach in our learning space where I support the development of the whole learner in every task and challenge with which they are presented.
It is important for me to put theory into practice and reimagine traditional teaching practices in the learning space. My facilitation of learning is always grounded in inquiry. Learners are more likely to engage in academic discourse and higher-level thinking when they are challenged to develop a solution to a problem or question (Fogarty & McTighe, 1993). Each year my curriculum aims to answer a singular Essential Question (EQ), and this guides the learning for the year. It gives learners a purpose for their work in the course, and it also provides structure. With backward planning in mind, each unit or segment of learning aims to answer a facet of the larger EQ so that learners explore their line of inquiry from a variety of perspectives. For example in my English 10 course, the question “What is America’s story?” sets the context for the year, and in one unit we look at the sub-EQ of “To what extent is the American Dream achievable by all?” in which we investigate the American Dream through the lens of class and social status. I make it a point to establish the end goal of each unit during the first week of study by providing learners with the summative assessment so they have a clear understanding of where their learning is headed.
A challenge inherent to all forms of education is addressing a varying range of abilities in the learning space. One of the biggest moments of growth in my career has been moving away from a deficit mindset and recognizing that when high expectations are held, learners will rise to that challenge regardless of their ability level (Tomlinson & Jarvis, 2014). I often scaffold my assignments and tasks as “mild,” “medium,” and “spicy” which provides opportunities for every learner to self-select a task that is appropriate for their current level of mastery. It is incredibly important for me as a facilitator of learning to use the experimentalist approach both in my teaching and leadership roles as I see the school as a laboratory where there should always be an emphasis on problem-solving skills to find the best solution (Glickman et al., 2018). Both facilitators and learners must work together to guide the learning process.
I firmly believe that limiting our perceptions of education only further reinforces inequitable structures that limit the growth and advancement of historically marginalized individuals. It is my goal to support learners in developing their voice and expertise to facilitate our learning. Through honest reflection of my practice as an educator, I model how learners can collectively value diverse identities and knowledge in the pursuit of creating a more equitable educational system by reimagining our pedagogies.
Fogarty, R., & McTighe, J. (1993). Educating teachers for higher order thinking: The three-story intellect. Theory into Practice, 32(3), 161.
Glickman, C. D., Gordon, S. P., & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (2018). SuperVision and instructional leadership: A developmental approach (10th ed.). Pearson.
Tomlinson, C. A., & Jarvis, J. M. (2014). Case studies of success: Supporting academic success for students with high potential from ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 37(3), 191-219.