Throughout my years in education I’ve been to a number of conferences, connected with many respected school leaders, and I’ve read countless articles and books relating to education. One would think that in doing so I’ve been able to pin-point exactly what it is that sparks learning in humans. I use the word humans simply because learning is not limited to students. The principles that apply to student learning also apply to learning in adults. I almost always walk away from conferences, conversations, and literature with the feeling like something was missed.
It is not something that is missed on purpose. Every conference I’ve been to has been great. I’ve connected with many wonderful administrators and I’ve read many scholarly books and articles. But again, it’s not missed purposely. We take it for granted. We believe we are already doing it. It’s something we don’t often think about, but I’m writing today to bring it back to the forefront of our minds and hearts. This takes us back to Life 101 (if there is such a course).
We all perform better when we feel valued. When we feel like we are a part of something and a contributor we will automatically rise and perform better. Simply; when we are appreciated, feel loved, and cared about we will do better. This I believe needs to happen in all of us. But many of us believe we are already doing it, and because so, it is often taken for granted. As educators we say “of course we value our students.” As human beings we say “of course we value our loved ones and the people we work with.” We say it, but do we truly do it?
How does this impact our nation’s schools? If our students feel valued; if they have a sense of self-worth, and they know that we care for them and believe in them – they will perform better. From there we can help shape our students into being who they want to be. We can facilitate a culture that embraces differences, and one that exists on the primary focus that every child can achieve at high levels. Bringing in a curriculum or program that is proven to maximize learning for all will not be successful if our students do not feel valued. The opposite can also happen when you have people engaged, appreciated, and valued; they can take a “not-so-great” program and turn it into something really special.
You can bring in any program you want. Bring in technology. Bring in Project-Based Learning, personalized PD, anything you want. Learning begins with self-worth and purpose. Learning is kick-started when people believe in us, and it’s not just a thought that shows it. Rather it’s an action that ignites it. We can begin maximizing the world in which we live simply by believing in each other and (in the education world) believing in our students.
So please don't take this for granted. Do not let your thoughts cloud your actions. Make it a priority to create relationships with people. Not only will it lay the foundational building blocks for learning in our schools, but it’s the best indicator of a successful work environment and organization. Value the people that you live with and work with. Give praise and appreciation every day. Have conversations with people and be empathetic to their thoughts.
Instead of thinking we already do this, lets make it a priority to put our thoughts to action every single day. Imagine a world in which every human being feels valued and appreciated and they feel this because of the actions of those around them. Let’s high-five our way to a better world and let’s start today.
Superintendent Jordan (@Supt_Jordan)