Education and educators resolve to make change. Change requires energy and energy dissipates quickly without success. Often I hear teachers say how they want to change their art and strive to do so but it is short lived and then status quo is attained once more. The question I have in every instance, myself included, is why does this happen?
Before I get to the answer let me comment on passion. Passion is the emotion that drives one to achieve any goal. If I'm passionate about drinking more water I do it. If a teacher is passionate about is passionate about using data to drive instruction they learn how to do it. If an administrator is passionate about changing culture they dig deep into the current school culture, learn how to change it, and then enact a plan. No passion comes without sacrifice. Something has to be given up to attain lofty goals. Passion is the driving force that allows anyone to make long-term sustainable changes
Professionals always want to change and make better their company, classroom, business, or life goals. It takes energy to make changes that affect learning and students. Why do teachers say change is needed but fail to enact it? They lack they passionate ownership to change. In other words, they identify some thing to change but aren't passionate about it so they lack the energy and drive to change.
The one word I am choosing to guide the year is actually two. One word I think about daily and that I am passionate is empathy.
Every educator needs to build empathetic capacity to see and hear students as humans who have the ultimate capacity to learn, thrive, and succeed. The phrase "every student can" is at the heart of this mindset. Students have every great capacity to learn and often educators feel they can not assuming students just aren't bright enough. That assumption is light years away from truth. Every person I know wants to learn. Every student wants to learn and every teacher needs to build their empathetic capacity to see and hear students as true learners who want to learn. This takes passionate resolve.
The next part of empathy is the teachers willingness to change instruction knowing that students are likely uninterested or bored. This side of empathy recognizes that students come to class knowing they will likely not be engaged because it is the same way of learning day after day. It takes energy to change and status quo is easily attained. Changing the craft takes megajoules of personal energy in personal learning, planning, assessment, and making the shift. If student centered empathy is the passion driving this change the change will happen. The only way to make instructional shifts is if the teacher has a empathy for students to recognize they are bored or uninterested and want make the learning environment engaging and deep. For this kind of shift to ensue the educator has to be passionate and resolve to recreate a learning environment that stimulates a deep desire to learn no matter what the content area.
My one word for the year is empathy to see and hear students as they are and help each one who crosses the threshold of my class to succeed.