Learn to Learn

This week at Rothesay Netherwood in New Brunswick, I was honoured to speak at the Learn2Learn Conference. When I was prepping for the address, I realized that some of my happiest moments in my career came during my ten years in the classroom.

For starters, kids make me laugh. They’re just so authentic. Once in a school, the Principal sent me off on a tour with a grade one boy, who told me he was excited to show me his favourite part of the school. Now I knew there was a brand new gym, so I expected to see that. But in a classroom, he explained that this was the place. He lead me to a bookshelf, where he got down on his hands and knees and asked me to do the same. You should know I was wearing a business suit, with a skirt, so this was a bit of a commitment. But I was intrigued. I asked, “What am I looking for?” His eyes bulged, and he whispered: a mouse trap.

But teaching also allows you to connect with people in profound ways. I remember one of my students at Lower Canada College in Montreal. I taught her English, and I was also her advisor, which meant that for three years, I ate snack and lunch with her and ten other students. Needless to say, I knew those kids well. I remember being quite nervous for one parent teacher interview. My student’s mother was quite ill, and in fact, she passed away during the school year. So there I was telling talking about writing skills and reading comprehension. She listened, then said, “You know, Mrs. Kee, I think of you, in my daughter’s life, as an angel.” I was shocked. That’s a powerful responsibility.

So this week, in preparation for The 2051 Project and Summer LI, I find myself thinking about a few things: we know that the key to any successful school is its teachers. Hands down, nothing is as important, and I heard that time and time again – from students! – in my 2051 Student Focus groups this year. We know from our CAIS National Parent Motivation Survey that parents want teachers to develop students’ character, morals and values. But what do we know from the perspective of teachers? What is their best advice about the future of education?

I asked teachers on Monday about their best advice to future teachers, and asked them to tweet them to me using #project2051. Here they are, 15 direct tweets from teachers:

  1. Develop relationships with students in order to facilitate risk taking & passion.
  1. Get to know your students on a personal level – it is more than just a classroom relationship.
  1. Ability to write, speak, read well. Digital literacy. Be adaptable.
  1. It’s student centered, failure ok, voice and choice.
  1. Never lose the need to teach generosity in the forest of technology
  1. Get to know your students well and everything else will follow.
  1. Top priority for today’s students? – a Growth mindset.
  1. Take risks and encourage your students to be risk takers as well!
  1. Teaching responsibility and independence.
  1. Make learning real, so students can relate to it.
  1. Priority for my students and children is global citizenship.
  1. Develop confident, lifelong learners.
  1. Prepare your students for jobs that do not yet exist.
  1. Build relationships with your students.
  1. Understand how they learn best.

Based on this list? I’d say our future students will be in good hands.

p.s. Congratulations to Tammy Earle for organizing a great conference.

p.p.s. Safe travels to the CAIS Summer Leadership Institute participants!

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