Teachers for the 21st century and beyond
It is unlikely that we can radically change the global education structure quickly, so the question is: “what can be done with the resources we have to start a change process?” Teachers are the key to achieving the goal, and we need to work with them carefully.
Many of them are over worked, over stretched and face enormous challenges on a daily basis. There is lack of money, growing classroom numbers and an ever increasing list of administrative things to do every day. Let’s remember that some of our colleagues are physically unsafe in their schools and some are working with children who are deeply deprived.
Our colleagues are dealing with the most precious things on this planet – our children – and they are often doing it in hostile and difficult environments. Asking them to do more is incredibly difficult, because they are already doing a lot.
However, if we want to help our society and planet, to have a future we need to start with our children, and this means changing how teachers work with them.
What can be done?
Schools, and as a result teachers, are focused on a state of doing. Teachers are assessed to check that their classes are achieving goals and reaching standards. Results are listed so that a child or school can be compared with another. The race to check and measure performance creates a state of busyness and doing -ness that puts teachers under enormous pressure to create success and push children through the system whether they are ready for it or not.
Make these questions part of the fundamentals of all teacher training:-
- What sort of person am I?
- What are my values?
- What is non negotiable about me as a human being?
- What sort of teacher am I?
- What do I value in the classroom?
- What sort of learner am I?
- What sort of learning environment do I want to create?
By asking these questions we immediately change the emphasis from what is done (standardised tests, reports, controls, teacher led classrooms and so on) and start a dialogue about who teachers want to be in the class. How do they want to show up as people? What sort of role model are they going to be for the children? We ask teachers to define their motivation, and when they have clarity about that they will change how they work with children and in schools.
If we can shift from doing to being for teachers in the classroom, and support this in how classrooms and schools are managed we could start to serve the nature of children more deeply and address the issue of creating teachers for the 21st century.
We do not need more technology, methods or standardised testing. We do need our teachers to be able to show up in the classroom at their fullest potential.
Research shows that when a person is in flow and can feel that what they are doing serves a greater purpose there is a positive link to higher creativity, more productivity and a better sense of well being for the individual and the organisation as a whole.
When we can teach our teachers to reach this state of flow it has the potential to change how they work in the classroom. Putting the emphasis on the teacher and their state of being has the prospective to change how schools work and how children experience school. This is the key to the whole process of helping children get a learning experience that is valuable to them for their future.
When we can change the focus of schools from doing places to being places we can start a subtle change in how society works – and this has the potential to change how children go into the world and view their place in it and the things that go on around them.
By encouraging teachers to focus on their state of being – not their state of doing – this offers a powerful alternative for the future of education and our society – no matter what the year. It is one that focuses on the human potential that exists in all of us – and our inherent desire to bring the best of ourselves forwards.
Our humanness is beautifully unique, given the right environment we could all bring our best selves into the world. If we can focus on teaching this to our teachers it will help them to go into the classroom more consciously which will enable our children to stay connected to the best in themselves which will only benefit them and our society as they move out into the world as leaders and decision makers in the future.
If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact Sally Edwards (firstname.lastname@example.org), we would be delighted to talk to you about the possibilities of using the assessments in your school.