When I am brainstorming ideas about how to support educators or youth… one of the questions that is simple, sometimes infuriating, but always important is “For what?”
While simple, this question always takes me back to purpose and objective. Why am I doing this? Will it support our associates better at CT3? Can we make more rapid changes in teacher practice in support of youth? Should I just leave well enough alone or will tackling a situation actually produce different or better results?
With the introduction of new evaluation systems, district mandates, and Common Core, we need to ask ourselves, as educators: For what?
And we need to include students in this inquiry …
- Why might this lesson be important?
- Does it connect to your hopes, dreams, ambitions?
- Will this be helpful to you now or in the future?
By asking students these kinds of questions, you’ll likely find a lesson in there for you, as the teacher, in cultural relevance from your students. Discussions along these lines can lead to deeper relationships with students because the teacher is interested in the connections they are making in students’ lives and in their communities. Students respect that.
And these discussions often lead to teachers’ understanding their students’ communities and interests in much deeper ways. Perhaps, most importantly, these questions give voice to our students and support our learnings as educators so we can grow and be better teachers for the youth we choose to serve.
Interestingly, it’s this same question that students ask of themselves and their teachers with every lesson we introduce. Many times it’s a variation on “What for?” As in, “What do I have to learn this stuff for?” Students need to know the relevance of what we teach them. They need to understand purpose and we must connect it to their worlds, goals, and ambitions. That’s when students know “what for.”
So, when you sit down to lesson plan tonight, be sure to ask yourself… “For what?”
Follow Dr. Borrero on Twitter: @KKB_CT3