It's almost time. The first day of school is almost here! I know that this is a busy time and there is lots of PD and prep work happening for educators right now. However, I want to encourage you to take some time do something that will drive and influence your entire year...identify your core beliefs. You see, your core beliefs about education, students, learning, and relationships are already impacting what you do and how you teach. They are your "why", the reason that you do what you do. But have you ever taken time to really stop and name those core beliefs?
Identifying your core beliefs and sharing them with others help to make them a reality. So, how do you know what they are? How can you share them and why should they be top priority? I think it's best to start with what you believe that every student deserves. I like to think of them as targets that I was aiming for with every experience that was designed, every tool that was used, and every relationship that was built. Now don't get me wrong, there were many times that I missed the mark. But when I did, I knew it and was able to regain focus and aim more carefully with the next attempt.
As you think about your core beliefs, don't think about standardized testing, standards, or lesson plans. Just focus on what you truly believe that every single learner needs and deserves from you and your classroom this year.
Let me share my core beliefs...
I believe that every student deserves an opportunity to experience new learning.
I believe that every student deserves an opportunity to share their learning.
I believe that every student deserves an opportunity to learn from failure.
I believe that every student deserves an opportunity to learn by doing.
I believe that every student deserves an opportunity to pursue their passion during the school day.
Those core beliefs drive everything that I share. Because I believe these things, I am passionate about real learning experiences like Genius Hour and Makerspace. I will talk to anyone that will listen about my experience with my own students and how allowing them to own their learning by pursuing their passions changed everything.
Now, it's your turn. Think about what you believe to be true about what students deserve. Start with something as simple as I believe...and then be completely honest. Don't get caught up in worrying about what others will think about your core beliefs or if you will really be able to make them happen. Just focus on what you believe students deserve.
Now, write them down and put them somewhere that you will see them every single day. Don't lose sight of these beliefs when things get hard. Instead, hold on to them throughout the year as your guide, your compass when you aren't sure if you are going in the right direction. If you question something that you are planning to do in the classroom, ask yourself if it matches any of your core beliefs. More importantly, ask yourself it goes against any of your core beliefs.
Often times, we have great ideas and ambitions when the school year starts. Then, things get crazy and we revert back to what's easy, what's comfortable, and what's familiar. For me, having these core beliefs held me accountable as I took risks and tried new things. I knew that if it was going to result in one of these beliefs being activated, it was probably a good idea, even if it wasn't successful right away.
In short, here are some simple steps you can take to create, activate, and share your own core beliefs.
Take some time to focus on what you believe to be true about education.
Write down 3-5 of those beliefs that you believe deserve your focus and attention.
Think about the ways that your beliefs can be "activated". In other words, how can you make it happen?
Post your core beliefs in a place that you will see them every single day.
Share your beliefs on Twitter using #ameaningfulmess and with anyone else that will listen.
Very soon, you will have students coming through your doors. And while you are accountable to lots of people, your ultimate accountability is to the learners that are relying on you to create meaningful experiences that will engage and empower.
It's going to be a great year and I can't wait to hear your core beliefs for 2018-2019. Take some time and make your core beliefs a priority...I think you will be so glad that you did!
In Episode 1 of A Meaningful Mess Podcast, I talked more about core beliefs and how they can impact you as an educator. Listen below!
© 2018 Andi McNair