5 Characteristics of Courageous Teacher Learners

From my first year as a teacher, where I struggled tremendously, to now where I lead professional learning across our nations’ schools, I find a consistent theme: teachers want to learn.

It’s not apparent in every staff room, or even publicly in the culture of many districts. Yet when leaders connect to the core of why people teach, and engage them in meaningful inquiry around questions that matter, teachers fire up about learning.

I believe in the power of courageous educators to transform public education. In celebration of my teaching colleagues across the nation who continue to inspire me, here are  five characteristics of courageous teacher learners:

1. We Embrace Complexity

We embrace the complexity of facilitating learning. We know teaching is more than delivery, and has as much to do with understanding our unique students. Once we understand students, we can build from their strengths and help them thrive through and beyond challenges.

2. We Believe in Possibility

Courageous teacher learners know that every child is capable of excellence, especially the children who are currently failing. When students struggle, courageous teachers ask questions: of our own practice, of colleagues, of research in the field. Questioning leads to discovering ways to help students transform challenge into opportunity.

3. We Try Beyond Our Comfort Zone

Courageous teachers know that even expert teaching involves trial and error, and that imperfection is part of life-long learning. When we don’t know how to reach a student, or help a class master a specific ability, we try anyways. We reflect daily on our impact, in order to understand what is working and identify what we, as professionals, are ready to do differently next time.

4. We Collaborate to Address Challenges

Courageous teacher learners are collaborators and innovators. We work with others within and beyond education to understand and address the most important challenges our students face. We build from research-based practices and innovate. We test and refine solutions until we see our students succeed.

5. We Model Courageous Learning

Most importantly, courageous teacher learners are role models. Through our own natural inquiry, passion, and persistence to stretch the edge of what we know and can do, we inspire the next generation to do the same.

How are you a courageous learner?  How do you inspire courageous learning among others?

I lead professional learning and design curriculum to realize the vision that every kindergartener who enters public schools will graduate high-school prepared to thrive in a changing world.

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