Recently my school hosted a guest who spoke about the Power of One: how one person can make a difference. A week or so later #gfedchat focused on the same topic during one of its Monday night chats. Both of these events stirred me to think and evaluate my teaching. Do I do enough to empower students, to make them see the power they have to effect change?
With the onus of teaching to the test or meeting all the standards of the Common Core or being mindful of all the elements and design questions of a teacher evaluation, teachers have enough on their plates without dabbing a small portion of something else. But what if that "something else" could help students believe in themselves and motivate them in the learning department? I decided to experiment in my classroom.
After being reminded by Joel Schleicher of the power of one person, I had conversations with my students about this idea. Most didn't believe they could be a change agent. Most laughed at the idea. Most thought too lowly of themselves. So how can we, as teachers, bring up their level of confidence and help students believe in themselves? I think one area is in allowing students to engage in projects.
Projects give students a voice and a choice in what they learn and how they learn it. It empowers them to do something that may seem small but could potentially change how things are done. It gives them a first-hand perspective of the power of them--the power they hold to make a difference.
Recently my students completed a project about the local library. They are scheduled to present their findings about things teens would like to see in the new library my city is planning on constructing to make the facility teen-friendly and more enticing for teens to utilize.
This week we began practicing for the presentation portion of the project. What began with students begging not to be the chosen person from their group to present their slides, ended with them clamoring for that privilege. The difference? Perspective.
Getting students to shift their focus off themselves and onto the impact they can have in what they are doing can make all the difference. By connecting this project to the power of one, students saw that even though they were a small voice from the local alternative school, they could make a big impact on how our new library is designed. They could bring about change. Have a positive impact. Battle the negative perception our students wrestle with almost daily because of the school they choose to attend.
Thanks to Joel Schleicher for reminding me of the strength in the message of the power of one. One class, one teacher, one student, one school can make a difference. It only takes one. Let your voice be heard. Be the teacher who helps students see their power of one. It really can make an impact--one student at a time.