Friday, November 6, 2015

Why Centers Around Kids

Viper Teachers Reflect
on the Power of 'Why?'

For Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School teachers, a recent professional development meeting centered around a 3-letter word that is small on paper but enormously powerful as a fuel for performance: Why?

The Assistant Principal in charge of curriculum, Mrs. Lena Koch, led a professional development session that encouraged teachers to consider the purposeful reasons behind their daily efforts to educate and inspire students.

When it comes to teaching studentswith all the challenges, complexities, and demands inherent in the professionfocusing on the why matters far more than the what and the how.

During the meeting, teachers were posed with a simple yet thought-provoking exercise. They were asked to complete the sentence beginning with "I teach because..." and write their response on a printed thought bubble.

Mr. Nicholas Stewart, a math teacher and basketball coach who shows up early and stays late to help his students and players succeed, addressed his colleagues at the meeting. He shared some very compelling reasons for why he works as hard as he does to balance the demands of teaching and coaching with those of family and personal life. "The whole reason for doing everything that I do, and for having the high level of dedication I have is for the kids. Whether it be coaching-related or the teaching aspect, I always try to do what is required to make life better for the kids."

Because he cares so much about what is in the best interests of  his students and players, math teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Nicholas Stewart, works many extra hours to enhance the lives of kids at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. "I want to give my students/athletes access to the same opportunities I had in life." 
 
Coach Stewart is not alone in his passion to serve students. Driven by 'whys' close to their heart, the entire faculty is comprised of teachers focused on helping each student fulfill their potential.

Middle school teacher, Ms. Lauren Daubs, has an insatiable enthusiasm for teaching language arts, math, and pre-algebra. "I teach because I want to have a positive impact on students and and their future. I want life to matter, give it meaning, make it great and fun, and worthwhile."

As part of the meeting, teachers watched a TED Talk by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, who conceptualized how great leaders inspire action from the inside out, rather than the outside in. During his speech, Sinek challenged his audience to dig deep and explore the why behind their daily actions. "What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?"

Mr. Matthew Barringer, a 9th grade World History teacher, is driven by a passion to help students. "Students deserve someone in their life who cares enough about them to allow the amazing person inside of them to be shown to the world."  

Renowned professor and education researcher John Hattie is credited with undertaking the largest and most ambitious study of factors that impact student achievement. His work culminated in the publishing of Visible Learning in 2009, and led to the release of Visible Learning for Teachers in 2012, in which Hattie articulated what he refers to as the Eight Mind Frames for Teachers.

Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Lorie Marshall, inspires middle school students to read and succeed. "I want to lead students to the realization that by reading, they are opening up an enormous opportunity to gain knowledge to benefit them in all aspects of their lives." 

Hattie's 8 Mind Frames for Teaching, in many ways, revolve around 'the why' behind teaching. Among other suggestions, he encourages teachers to evaluate their effect on student learning, take responsibility for being a change agent in each child's education, develop positive relationships, and inform students about the language of learning.

Mr. Michael Pommier teaches Career Research and Decision Making to 9th graders, and also coaches the boys basketball team. "I teach because it's fun, and I am passionate in trying to be a positive role model as a teacher and coach."

Reflecting on the value of considering the why behind what and how teachers do what they do, Mrs. Koch felt the timing was right to help reconnect teachers with the purpose in which they entered into the profession. "Thinking about the concept of why you are teaching made me think that sometimes, we need to come back to why we're here. This is the time of year it feels like everything is piling up on us and it is a good time to reflect on why we're doing what we're doing."

Assistant Principal Mrs. Lena Koch oversees curriculum  and helps develop teachers at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. She often encourages teachers to remember why they are doing what they are required to do in order to maximize student learning. 

As Sinek stated, "It's those who start with the 'why' that have the ability to inspire those around them." For a such a small word, 'why' surely packs sizable power to change the world.

It is most certainly the why that helps teachers at Space Coast teach and inspire students every day.

See Simon Sinek's "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" TED Talk here.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

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