Myth #1: Focus on one or two initiatives. Oversimplification creates tunnel vision. Yes, we should commit energy in presumably trivial acts of being awesome, believing in it’s cumulative and exponential effect. Instead of eliminating options, let’s take bold, powerful risks. After some time, we’ll turn around to see the amazing creation we’ve built.
Myth #2: We have to make connections for them. Do we believe our teachers are amazing and want to do what’s best for students? They don’t need someone to show them how the many initiatives connect. They can make those connections themselves. Awesome teachers don’t wait around for the rules of the game to change. They aren’t waiting around to be told what to do or ask permission. They take initiative, lead boldly, and take others with them. They’re the drivers of change, changing the very nature of what it means to teach. They need to be believed in. Celebrated. Appreciated.
Myth #3: Go back to the basics. Looking back is not the answer. Our past system of education was not built to produce creative and curious learners. It was built for replication, scaling up efficiencies, compliance, and predictability. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as the education system was designed for an industrial age. But we are no longer in the industrial age. We must redesign the education system to meet the demands of our newly connected economy. Our world is changing so quickly that if we don’t think forward, by the time we figure it out, it’s too late.
Myth #4: Provide them with more stuff. Awesome teachers do not rely too much on “stuff.” They look at resources as a support for instruction and an active repository. We should leverage the shared resources available, and develop a dynamic approach to instruction and learning that engages all students. Teachers can get trapped into reinventing the wheel with resources. Teachers don’t need more stuff, they just need to be awesome with the amazing resources at their disposal.
Myth #5: Increase accountability. We are a team. All of us. We inspire confidence and trust in each other. We are driven, therefore we keep ourselves accountable. Everyone has a unique set of skills that they bring to the collective group. Teachers flourish when they are nurtured, given autonomy, and encouraged to grow and develop their talents and abilities. Real and lasting change happens when we “get to” and not “have to.”
Myth #6: Abandon accountability. On the flip side, we shouldn’t abandon accountability either. If we want change to gain momentum, teachers need feedback, as soon as possible, right after they do something. We believe in the power of student reflection and self and peer assessments. Why not take advantage of this as adult learners together in a respectful community?
Myth #7: Teachers need more time. No, we just need to act. We need to be bold. There are people who work 20 hours a day and still don’t get it all done and still aren’t getting the results they desire. There only 24 hours in a day. It’s impossible to add any more hours. But it is possible to make a bigger impact and investment with the time we have.
Myth #8: Focus on a Work-Life Balance. The work-life balance is a bit of a misnomer. The focus shouldn’t be on a balance, but how you’re using time to invest in relationships, work that matters, and just plain being awesome. Instead of spending energy on how to squeeze more activity out of the minutes, we should be empowering teachers to take innovative risks, and invest in creating connections and relationships.