Last week we had a unique opportunity for our 5th grade class. We had many local environmentalists teach our students, and definitely me, about different concepts in nature. One of the environmentalist held up a teaspoon of dirt. He shared that in that teaspoon of dirt there are more organisms and microorganisms than people on earth. Unbelievable.
Then I started thinking...each one of these organisms are unique in their own way, just like humans. If in this teaspoon these organisms can work together to provide rich soil, why can’t we work together to create peace, promote education, ensure safety, and provide quality healthcare? Why is it so hard to work together to provide a rich society? I partly blame myself.
Do I create enough change in my classroom to help students be problem solvers? Do I give them enough real world experiences to prepare them for their future? Do I allow them to follow their passion and help each other out to solve problems when they can’t reach their goals?
In order to help this next generation, we need to start in the classroom. We need to change the way we teach in order to reach the demands of this next generation. I know what you’re thinking, what about the pressures of ensuring our students meet the common core state standards (I hyperlinked this website in case you need a little more information about the standards in place for our students)? I believe that we can work around these to make sure we teach the standards while we are incorporating these skills into their instruction. We need to start moving away from traditional teaching and start allowing our students to take more leadership in their learning. We need to amplify their voice.
Here’s a great example...Our 8th graders are doing a community service project right now. They are working in teams to do different things around the community, like buying a new town sign, painting dugouts, cleaning the neighborhood, making flyers, raising money, they even got a local hardware store to donate paint!...The list goes on. What a great way for our students to help out their community while incorporating the common core standards. This gives our students a real world example on how they can work together to solve problems within their local community. They have really done a great job with this. It makes me proud of the students I am blessed to have taught and the colleagues I am blessed to work with.
Maybe we can all do a little of this in our field. I love looking outside the box for ideas on solving problems. As teachers, maybe we need to move away from the idea of teachers first and move towards the idea of learners first. If we role model learning to our students and working together, maybe they will start doing this too. Maybe I need to be more of a guide for my students on their educational journey, and allow them to be leaders in their own learning. I’m not perfect; I have a lot to learn, and my student’s need to know that.