How might our thinking long-term vs. short-term impact the decisions we make as we jump back into teaching and learning in classrooms? What would an observer in your classroom, focused on students and teacher, see and hear that indicates resilience is like to be increasing? Steve shares a strategy to assist in drawing your students into an empowering conversation about how they impact their own success.
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Steve [Intro]: 00:00 Hello, and welcome to the teacher edition of the Steve Barkley ponders out loud podcast. The complexity of teaching is both challenging and rewarding. And my curiosity is peaked. Whenever I explore with teachers, the multiple pathways for facilitating student engagement in the exciting world of learning this podcast looks to serve teachers as they motivate coach and support their learners.
Steve: 00:31 Jumping back into classrooms. I recently had the pleasure of joining a district staff preparing to open summer school. And this was an important opening of summer school because these students had not been back into classrooms at schools with their teachers since the previous March. All that time, they had been working online virtually and now for the first time in summer school programs, they would be joining their teachers back in schools. I had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts with folks as they had this celebration and prepared to meet their students. I’ve been working recently on several pieces about refocusing and reframing our mindsets as we are returning to school. The terms refocus and reframe mean to think about having a different mental picture, a different way of considering things than we perhaps have historically approached in schools. One of the areas that I examined was refocusing our consideration of time from the usual short term goals that we have in schools to longer term goals.
Steve: 02:07 This concept is laid out in a book by Roman Krznaric titled, “The Good Ancestor: How do we Think Long-Term in a Short-Term World?” As a good ancestor, we are making decisions that are influencing future generations, and we are considering those future generations in our decision-making process. In some cultures, they talk about thinking seven generations out. In other words, if you move out seven generations and they looked back upon the things that we did, would they call us good ancestors? Another example from Krznaric is cathedral thinking. If you think about the designers and builders of the great cathedrals around the world, they were built by people who were likely not alive at the time that their work was finished. This idea of short-term and long-term causes me to ponder about people facing a group of students for summer school or at the start of the next school year.
Steve: 03:28 To what extent do we end up with a focus on some short term upcoming assessment versus how are we focused on what might be more important to the student’s future? Let me say what might be most important to these students’ futures. To what extent might building students’ long-term resilience be one of those long-term goals that we’d be focused on as students returned to classrooms? Writing about resilience in a education week blog, Adeyemi Stembridge shared the following: “If the goal role in our understanding of resilience is to be able to better position ourselves as more effective support to students, then we must think carefully about the nature and value of authentic, trusting relationships in school. Trust isn’t merely a commodity shared between two or more people. I’m referring to how students come into trusting relationships with the idea of school and their identities they’re in. We are all more likely to remain committed to a task when some part of our identity is invested in the space and or the task.
Steve: 05:04 In this regard, I encourage teachers to use strategies that allow students to see themselves as agents of success in their own
lives.” I really love that phrase, “a trusting relationship with the idea of school.” Definitely the post pandemic return to the classroom is a time for that longer-term desired focus that would support students’ continuous success. What would you imagine a person observing in your classroom would see in teacher actions and student actions that would indicate experiences that are likely to build resilience? What does it look like and sound like? You’ll find the link to Stembridge’s article in the lead-in to this podcast. He offers a great strategy that I’m really encouraging teachers to experiment with. He suggests that we look for times to take a photo, a snapshot, pull out the phone of students who are thinking, explaining, collaborating, working, studying, struggling, engaged in learning.
Steve: 06:30 Then at a later time, show the student the photo and ask them to describe what they see happening in the photo. This should be a great opportunity to reinforce for students that they are taking the actions for their own success, that they are empowered. Several years back, I had physical education teachers share with me what an asset the cell phone camera had become to their PE classrooms. They said the ability to capture a student implementing an action, and then to take the photo to the student in this case, taking a video to the students and letting the students see their movement and the impact that their physical movement had on the action that they were looking to be successful at. I can just imagine the same powerful impact of a student seeing him or herself engaged in the behaviors that will cause their success. As you jump back into the classroom, I encourage you to love your learning with your students. In a post on Twitter, Richard Feynman offered a great thought. He said, “students don’t need a perfect teacher. Students need a happy teacher who’s gonna make them excited to come to school and grow a love of learning.” I wish you a love of learning as you return to your students and always remember teachers can and do change the world. Thanks for listening.
Steve [Outro]: 08:35 Thanks for listening in folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.