3 Questions to Help Leverage Barriers in Education

    You want to try something new in your school or classroom and it seems hard to make your vision into a reality.  Here are a few quick questions that might help you through the process.
    Is this opportunity best for the learners you serve?This question is meant to “centre” the focus of what we do and is meant to be a conversation with our colleagues and should be one we have with students as well.  For example, if the only justification for learning something is simply because “I believe you need to learn it” (I am guilty of saying this to students early in my career), we need to have a deeper understanding of why we are using our precious time for something that might not serve learners in the future.
    Not all things we do in education will be fun for our students, and that is okay. Not everything in life is fun either.  But sometimes those hard things are done because they serve a larger purpose that leads to something better. Can we articulate that to our students and help them see a larger goal than it is just “something we do at school?”
    What are the constraints and is there a way we can use them to our advantage?
    Constraints can be annoying, but as John Spencer shares, they can have some benefits for creativity. Either way, they exist, and why it is essential we always think how do we innovate inside the box.  Identifying the constraints it not a way of ignoring them, but a way to determine if we can use them to our advantage.For example, I have seen many schools start “GoFundMe” accounts for their classrooms to bring some opportunities to their students.  I understand why they do this when schools need to be better funded, but is there a way for students to create something of value in this process and go through the marketing process?  What skills will students learn through this while also having more ownership over the classroom and process?
    Identifying the constraint doesn’t make it go away, but it does give us an opportunity to understand how we might be able to leverage it at the moment.

    What opportunities will this create for our students in the present and future?
    We are so focused on what our students can do for the future, that we often lose sight that right now means everything to our students as well.  Do the opportunities in your classroom prepare students for the future but also tap into their abilities and strengths right now? Does it open doors for our students currently to feel valued in our classroom and schools?  Yes, we are preparing our kids to create a better future but don’t forsake that for the(ir) present. We are only kids once in our lifetime.
    These questions are not meant to provide a pathway for educators, but to help them determine their own.  With all of the other “stuff” that educators have to do, being able to center in on these questions can help remind us of why we are in the profession.  It is never easy work, but it always important.



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