Have you ever heard someone say “we don’t really know” and thought, well yes we do. There are many things we do know. For example: Science is real, it is OK to be smart, and research matters. Lately I have been wondering why so many people want to dismiss history and knowledge to start from scratch? Why not use what we know to grow and be better? Solve the world’s problems, improve education based on brain research, create energy from renewable resources?
While having lunch with my grandmother she was sharing how farmers listened to the scientists and government agents to learn how to improve their farming practices to avoid topsoil erosion after the Great Depression. They did not say, as they watched their soil blow away, my soil is not necessary, you are wrong. They listened, partnered and learned. When did we lose the value of learning and improving our world as a community?
Education is both a science and an art. There are years of high quality research on teaching & learning. It tells us what does, and what does not, work. We know bullying makes it hard to learn. We know that when a student does not feel safe it puts them in the fight and flight mode and they are unable to learn. We know student performance is impacted by backgrounds and experiences. We know this. We know may of the issues that impact learning and teaching and how to approach student achievement.
We know quality nutrition helps a child’s brain. That was the start of school lunch programs. When a human is hungry the brain is focused on survival, not learning. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, still a highly valued theory, still holds true. If we don’t meet our basic human needs and put safety nets in place for ALL children and teachers, then learning really is challenging. See a trend here?
Research is emerging that teacher leadership is key in increasing student achievement (A Systemic Approach to Elevating Teacher Leadership, Learning Forward, November 2016). We have known for a long time that highly qualified teachers improve student outcomes so this should come as no surprise. What can we do as experienced educators to develop teacher leaders? We know how to do this, what will you do?