High-Stakes Learning: Moments of Humanity

When I first began understanding the power of the “twitter world,” one educator I became quite fond of due to her passion, vision, and innovative style was, and is still to this day, Pernille Rip. She is a remarkable educator, and one that consistently challenges me to reflect, and own my role in pushing the limits both within and outside the classroom environment. She has a powerful blog that I highly suggest anyone follow titled, Blogging through the Fourth Dimension. On April 1st, she posted a rather thought-provoking perspective regarding our role as educators to guide students “beyond the standards” we teach (check it out here!)

Naturally, she had my wheels-spinning…


When reflecting on our practices as educators, the word humanity comes to mind.

Think about that for a moment: how does humanity relate to the era of education we are in?

Simple. “Look past the standards,” as Pernille would say.

For all educators, while it is our duty to ensure that a high level of growth results for our students yearly, it is our equal duty to remember they are more than standards. I am proud of them, and celebrate with them, measures of growth – no matter how small. Yet, as I reflect, I believe it is of equal (if not more) of a priority to remember they are unique individuals. Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.30.25 PM

Individuals with unique passions, perspectives, and struggles. And as a middle level educator, I believe, in many ways, the successes of our classrooms are dependent on being able to guide students along pathways of learning which extend beyond the EOG – pathways beyond academia.

If we need innovators, we must have passionately driven citizens.

If we need leaders, we must have reflective citizens.

If we need life-long learners, we must have a high level of ownership amongst our citizens.

…and if we need well-prepared citizens for our future, we must recognize that our students need us to guide them beyond the standards so they may become the aforementioned citizens we need. To guide them on interdisciplinary connections, accepting criticism, learning from failure, and ultimately (our hope) unlocking a passion they did not know existed before.


As I reflect today, I think of all the moments of humanity in my own classroom; I am left with this overwhelming feeling that those moments of humanity ARE “what make teaching worth it.” The moments that a child improves based on self-reflection. The moment a child becomes a “true learner” by seeking knowledge in places and times he/she wasn’t “prescribed” to. The moment when a child begins to confide within you so as to seek guidance on the struggles of life in general.

One particular memory resonates the message I want to exemplify through this blog post for all educators. I had a student who had a history of struggling in others’ classrooms become widely successful in mine. I don’t account her change of behavior in my room beyond one statement that I repeatedly told her. She often second-guessed herself, doubting her abilities. Always surprised when she knew the answer to a higher-order question, or when she showed immense growth. Here’s the secret: in her moments of doubt, she would always (without fail) look at me and say, “I can’t do it. I’m not smart enough.” And I would always say to her, “YES. Yes, you can. Trust me. Trust in your abilities.”

What power such a short response can make in the lives of our students. For their humanity.

No matter if we are 9, 14, or even 60, we need someone to remind us we are more than the “standards” before us, someone to say to us, “YES. Yes you can do this!” Someone to assure us of our natural ability to persevere; someone to remind us of what is truly important. “High-stakes” learning happens in all facets of our lives, no matter our age or abilities. And sometimes what we need the most is someone to guide us through those occurrences.

So my challenge to you readers today? First, ignore all the grammatical errors on this blog post (again, see my first post here for the #aprilblogaday challenge. Step one. Admit I will not write perfect blog posts. *Gulp.*) Second, and most importantly, take 5 minutes to reflect on the moments of humanity in your own realm – whether that is in the classroom, administrative, etc.  Those 5 minutes can (and will) be powerful! By choosing to reflect on such, we are no doubt choosing to become better educators who push beyond “the standards.”

Now, go on over to Pernille’s blog here, and take a look around. Add her to your PLN. No doubt, you will leave as a better educator from the moment you enter that “4th dimension!”

RML

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