- DR. RITA PIERSON
In a recent professional growth training, we discussed a time when we experienced a shift in our instructional beliefs and practices. Watching Pierson’s talk, reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset, and entering this job as a personalized learning coach were huge, wonderful opportunities for my professional growth and each one completely changed my practice. For one, they sparked significant change in my teaching vocabulary. Instead of using the term “classroom management,” I now refer to this practice as “building climate and culture.” Instead of saying, “They can’t” or “I can’t,” I now say, “Not yet” or “I haven’t tried hard enough.” Yet the real shift is I now truly believe that nothing is more important both professionally and personally than developing relationships focused on growth. Little can be accomplished without it.
A positive classroom climate and culture that focuses on relationships ensures that every child feels safe and supported to grow and learn. Additionally, it fosters the social and emotional development of our students. In order for every child to “have a champion,” we must be willing to build those relationships with our learners. We must understand who they are and ask them the appropriate questions to help them develop an idea of who they want to be. The framework for personalized learning requires us, as educators, to know our students and to have them collectively create their optimal learning environment.
I believe wholeheartedly in the power of what personalized learning can do for our students, but I also know that it will never happen unless we create a climate and culture that supports student autonomy. I believe in the power of a shared vision, social contract, and standard operating procedures. I know from personal experiences the power of having and developing a growth mindset and setting goals. This skill is imperative for our students as they build their future. Yet none of this matters unless we are consciously and constantly checking in, monitoring, and most importantly, celebrating the environment, the learning, and the relationships being developed in the classroom.
So, as we end the fourth week of this school year, I invite you to question:
“What will help my students know that I am their champion?”
“What can we do, as a class, to further build the optimal learning environment for all in the room?”
“What can I do to consistently focus on maintaining that positive environment that fosters learning for my students?” and
“What else can I do to make my students feel safe to grow and learn?”
Then, ask “How?”
Happy Friday to all, and I leave you with this quote from Dr. Rita Pierson: “Teachers don’t make a lot of money. They are usually not deemed worthy of news coverage unless there is a scandal or a strike. Most of the time, their major accomplishments are shared only with colleagues and family members and not the media. The celebration is often cut short by some catastrophe the next day. Yet, in spite of the highs and lows, I cannot think of another profession that brings both joy and challenge on a daily basis.”