From Rote to Robust
September 10, 2018
It has been a positive, enthusiastic start to the school year. As I travel through the district schools, I see positivity and engagement like never before. Teachers look happy, students look happy, and another school year of learning is off and running.
Upon reflection from my school visits, and from a current read of a book Primal Leadership, by Daniel Goleman, I have become increasingly intrigued with the transition from a traditional classroom to that of a 21st century classroom. More precisely, what observable behaviors can I see that look different from what I remember about school to what I am currently seeing inside our classrooms. What are teachers doing differently? Even more importantly, what are students doing differently? There is a powerful connection that happens between teachers and students when the instructor employs emotionally intelligent leadership. Combine this instructional energy with flexibility and choice for students, and the learning possibilities are endless.
According to Daniel Goleman, “Emotionally intelligent leadership (should) inspire, arouse passion and enthusiasm, and keep people motivated and committed.” Moreover, when students see and feel a teacher who is aware of the emotional intelligences needed to be successful in school, and successful for them, as students, as people… a cadence happens. Teacher and student are connected.
As evidence of this truth, try to remember one specific lesson that was taught to you by your 1st grade teacher. It’s a challenge! I can’t do it! But, I can remember how she made me feel. It is important that teachers like their students, genuinely, and appreciate them for who they are as individuals. It is also important for students to like their teachers, and respect them for the important work they are doing on their own behalf. Learning within a 21st century classroom only adds to a student’s sense of self and an organized (by the teacher) sense of autonomy and individual worth. With genuine care, combined with skilled structure, student growth follows more naturally.
When I think about the observable changes being seen in our classrooms, from the way things used to be to the reality of how they are now, I have repeatedly seen the development of the aforementioned cadence. Teacher and student working together, in a mutually respectful flow, sharing classroom space together, learning together.
This is encouraging, interesting, and fosters an engaging learning experience.
Here’s to a school year filled with this kind of excitement!