When you think about empowered learners, what comes to mind? Lately, I imagine students belting out a Katy Perry lyric: "I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar." And yet, we know as teachers that picturing the outcome isn't enough. We need structures to help our students succeed. This is complex work, but let me offer four components that I think are integral to building what I'll call a "roar-enabling environment."
Recognition: Teachers see their students as individuals and recognize their unique learning strengths and deficits. As students grow, their progress is acknowledged and celebrated.
Options: Teachers draw upon a wide range of instructional methods as they recognize their students' varied learning needs. Students can take multiple paths to master skills and express their knowledge.
Access: Teachers present challenging content using methods that engage and make sense to students. All students benefit from a rigorous curriculum that asks them to stretch and do their best.
Resources: Teachers work with each other and with support staff to assess students' needs and provide resources. When students have ample access to help, their confidence and achievement grow.
Below are three videos that showcase support structures in action. They, along with 21 others, were recently added to the Teaching Channel library from Success at the Core – a professional development toolkit for teachers and leadership teams. As you watch, think about the role that recognition, options, access, and resources play in the featured classrooms.
The Workshop Model: In this video, you’ll hear teacher Aaron Allen explain why he uses the Workshop Model in his classroom and see how students work on unit assignments at their own pace.
One Problem, Many Approaches: Students in Erlinda Fazio's class learn and make sense of math in different ways. See how her instruction invites learners to show what they know using multiple methods.
Preparing for Mineral Identification: Keith Olive recognizes that the diverse students in his classroom cannot just jump into a mineral identification lab. See how he scaffolds his lesson to prepare them for success.
Wendy Sauer taught high school history and English for 10 years in the Seattle area. Recently, she served as project manager at Education Development Center where she worked on the design, development and dissemination of Success at the Core. Wendy has experience in strategic communications, instructional design and training, and is an education consultant for Teaching Channel.
Success at the Core is a professional development toolkit for teachers and leadership teams, designed collaboratively by Education Development Center (EDC), which designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide, and Vulcan Productions, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen’s award-winning film company. Original materials were funded by Vulcan Productions, Inc. and are used with permission.