Empowering the learner.

Liam Bailey via Getty Images

I had an idea, but I didn’t have the solution. I wanted students in my Physical Education class to create an animated GIF of a fitness exercise, which would then be turned into a QR Code, and then ultimately used by another class as a Mystery Fitness Circuit. Why did I do this…

“ Initiatives such as introducing technologies can give students more tools with which to create and problem-solve. Seeking out authentic audiences and providing real-world problems to investigate provides powerful motivation for students to produce quality work.” — MJ Farris

I encountered a few (mostly tech) problems along the way, but I always sought help and who did I find were the most effective problem solvers? The students.

Students like authentic problems and students want to help find solutions. Students want to be empowered and they welcome the chance to learn alongside the teacher, if not teach them a thing or two.

“The problem is that the highly disruptive nature of innovation creates new challenges to authority” — Dr. Tony Wagner

This student-centric approach is difficult for many educators as they hold on to traditional educational practices because either they were once effective curriculum-delivering-vehicles or simply, that is how they themselves were taught. In many regards, this shift in education still needs work.

Unfortunately this disruptive thinking is not always supported by administrators as many fear, not the failure of innovative educational implementations, but the successes, as then they will need to provide reasons to parents of why their child wasn’t exposed to the same learning opportunities as others. For that, one must look to continually support the ceiling, not sweep the floor.

“If what’s best for learners is our primary concern, equity of opportunities will be created at the highest of levels, not the lowest.” — George Couros

For me, I want to disrupt traditional education, not for the sake of being innovative, but because I believe it will lead to better learning opportunities for my students. I want to be part of healthy silos which push education forward, making a positive impact on student learning. I want to push my own thinking and take risks. I want to be empowered, because I too… am a learner.

George Couros The Innovator’s Minsdet: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, Oct 2015

Mike Crowley Learners First: School Culture and the Silo Myth, Feb 2017

Mary Jeanne Farris What do students REALLY need to learn?, Dec 2016

@DrTonyWagner Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, Aug 2011