Mike kicked off his presentation by defining a few words:
- Imagine (v.)
- Dream (v.)
- Inspire (v.)
and reminded us that, together with the parents, we have a huge influence on our students' lives. Our role as educators is not only to teach the content of the lesson, but we should be getting our students to develop both, academically, but also as people.
The personal element of liking and caring is very important in the process of teaching and learning. Students want to please, especially when a teacher obviously likes them and cares about them. Makes sense. Mike mentioned the example of the late Rita Pierson, an excellent educator and speaker who believed that teachers should believe in their students and actually connect with them. In her talks, she often spoke of the value and importance of human connection. Simple things such as saying that you are sorry, apologizing, etc. help create a genuine relationship, which in turn nurtures better conditions for learning. The teacher plays a critical role in creating these relationships.
The key word is "passion". Some teachers are only good at conveying messages. Others light fires and inspire students to create new ideas. Giving the students a fish and feeding them for a day is not enough. An inspiring educator will give them a rod instead, and teach them how to fish, awaken in them the ability to create new ideas.
As we know, self-actualization, esteem, but also love/belonging are among the needs included in Maslow's hierarchy. All these needs should be catered for in a classroom environment. In terms of self-actualization, students should be encouraged to always try to reach their full potential. We are not just English teachers, but educators, and as such we should be the force that enables our students to set goals when they still don't know what they want to aim at in their lives. Our role has wider implications than simply teaching language skills. By maintaining healthy relationships in the classroom we cater for the need of esteem. Finally, the classroom is like a community, like a microcosm. Belonging to this kind of community caters for another basic need, the need of love and belonging.
So, what is the purpose of education? According to Bloom's Taxonomy, knowledge is at the bottom of the whole classification of learning objectives. Unfortunately, that is where much learning stops and many lessons do not get beyond the first stages of Bloom's taxonomy. Our role is to inspire our students to create.
Knowing the 21st century competencies: innovative and practical problem solver; effective communicator; collaborative team member; flexible and self-directed learner; globally aware, active and responsible student/citizen; and information literate researcher, we should create inspiring teaching/learning content which will appeal to the intelligence, senses and emotions of our students. As a result, they will be able to examine higher ideas and their own place in the world. How can it be done? Mike presented a number of useful ideas:
- Maintain a regular "flexible zone" in your lesson – the time when you can engage in a variety of activities with your students;
- Get your students involved in project work;
- Ask them to create a video;
- Have them deliver presentations with stories and pictures;
- Acting things out – re-enacting scenes from previously read stories; or
- Telling stories from a different perspective.
With our guidance, our students will develop self-confidence, pride in what they do and joy of their achievements. Let's make them realize that they are wonderful people and it is not a shame to scream out: "I love myself". The more self-love increases, the more self-expression increases.
By Margarita Kosior