We have read it a thousand times and it has not changed yet! Teachers lack time and students need agency, global outreach and to be able to develop the skills for life! Governments have tried everything from writing lesson plans for us, giving us more assistance in the classroom or providing us with more advanced technology, but none of these has seemed to work!
So what’s the solution? Well after 25 years in the classroom and with my experience as a Montessori teacher, I believe that the secret lies in the lesson delivery itself, and the process involved in allowing children to work how they wish while we observe them demonstrate the skills we never knew they had!
The future of tomorrow lies in the classrooms of today and if we want our teachers to stay, then we must give them time to be able to be creative, teach with passion and observe the children in their class, instead of forcing them to teach to the test because we are worried about our rankings against other schools.
If we want our children to enjoy school and find their passion for life as early as possible, then we need to allow them freedom within the classroom to explore the world and experience education with all their senses. I believe that this simple adaptation to the way our schools are run will allow everyone to benefit immensely.
And after 25 years in the classroom, here’s my five-step system for delivering lessons that will benefit everyone, (especially the children of tomorrow)
Step 1 - Captivate ‘Inspire and wow them!’
The introduction to your lesson should be of interest to you and capture the children’s attention immediately! Make their eyeballs pop out of their heads with your wonderful facts about the topic. Tell them something they’ve never heard before, something they’ll remember.
Step 2 - Choice ‘What else would you like to know?’
This is where you ask the children if there is anything else they’d like to know about the subject. Watch as hands fly up and the children create their own research questions based on their interests.
Step 3 - Agency ‘freedom within limits
Now the children have created their own agenda, it’s time for them to find the answers to these questions. They can work where they like, with whom they choose and more importantly “they can represent their research in any way they choose” (at this point you can float around the room watching your highly engaged class demonstrate the essential skills for the future)
Step 4 - Showtime - ‘Teach us all’
Now that our children have found the answers and created something that demonstrates their understanding! It is now time for them to teach the rest of us! ‘What did you find out, we are all listening! (Even me, and I’m the teacher!) - During this process, the children start to show us
Step 5 - Impact - ‘What are you going to do with the new knowledge you now have?’
This is where you allow the children to use the product that has just been created to have an impact on the world. No matter how big or small, how can they use their project to make the world a little bit better?
Step 6 - Reflection - How do you feel?
Once the children have put their poster in the post office or used their diorama to teach a younger class, it is then our job to ask them how it made them feel when they saw a stranger reading their poster or the children in Kindergarten becoming inspired about bees. The feedback you get will almost always be positive and the follow-up will be that the children will always understand that the real ‘Learning Intention’ behind any subject is to be able to improve the lives of others with the effort you have just made!
Socrates said ‘I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.’ and this is truly the solution to the problem we are facing with education around the world. We have stopped allowing our teachers to think. Giving them pre-determined documentation designed to pass on mundane knowledge to the children before them so they can pass the test at the end of the term.
For what purpose? Education should be a process where teachers bring their speciality into the room each day, their passion, drive and love! Education is about cultivating awe and wonder in the love of learning new things about amazing topics and thus inspiring our children to want to know more.
Education lost its way because of the drive for schools and counties to compete against each other and this has unfortunately trickled down into the classrooms of today. I think everyone would agree that it’s time that we sat down and thought long and hard about what we want from our leaders of tomorrow.
We want leaders who care, do good, try hard and are passionate about what they do, but the only way we can do that is if we allow our teachers to be the teacher they always wanted to be a teacher who changes the world, one lesson at a time!