Five Things I Learned as an Educator
1. Intelligence is not limited to reading, writing, and mathematics.
Dr. Howard Gardner developed the Multiple Intelligence Theory in 1983, suggesting that the traditional notion of intelligence is far too limited. Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for potential in students and adults—linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. We must embrace and incorporate the multiple intelligences into our daily instruction. Then we will celebrate all students.
2. When we use poverty as an excuse for not having high expectations for all students then we are providing students with an unnecessary crutch that could limit their current and future successes.
The recent struggles within our economy have negatively affected many school systems and supporting non-profit organizations’ budgets, but it cannot be an excuse for our students. Now, more than ever, students must excel and exceed our high expectations for them. Our students are members of a global community. We cannot put an asterisk on their report cards or diplomas because they grew up in an environment that could have been better. It is most important that students are prepared for their future regardless of where they grew up and the adversities they faced.
3. All adults are teachers.
Education = learning. Learning does not and should not solely occur in schools. Learning takes place 24/7 and we are all teachers. We must guard all of our actions and statements carefully to ensure our lessons are worth learning. Recognizing that it takes an entire community to make a positive difference for students, we must also support each other by giving of our time, talents, and resources to local non-profit organizations and the faith-based community.
4. Be better today than you were yesterday.
Adults ask students to do their best and we should mimic this for them daily. This is a continuous practice that never ends. We must recognize and accept that, even as adults, our “best” constantly changes as the circumstances that surround us change. And the same is true for our students. The “best” for each student is different on a day-to-day basis. It is our charge, as educators, to guide students to their “best” and accept their “best” without comparing them to anyone else.
5. Education is about students, not adults.
All school systems have strategic plans and vision statements that guide them. Most, if not all, include the word “students.” Yet, sometimes our actions are contrary to the very vision statements we support each day. With decreasing budgets and increasing mandates on public education, there are times when it is necessary to have powerful conversations. There are also times when we will disagree on the best ways to educate students, however, during these times we cannot lose sight of the purpose of public education and that is to provide students with a high-quality education.
I had the opportunity and invitation to participate in a global project along with 75 other individuals. Pearson Foundation asked us to answer the question: "What are the five things you've learned in education." I am happy to say I feel the same way five years later.