Intellectual Humility

As educators, we walk into a room bearing knowledge. Some of may have more knowledge than others, some of us may have different types of knowledge, and some of us may just be starting on our journey of gaining knowledge. The most important thing to keep in mind, I believe, is that we never know everything. Whether we are in a classroom of youth, in front of a group of community members, or in a group of educators, there is ALWAYS something to learn and some new way of understanding.

Sometimes, especially when we’re surrounded by other educators, it is easy to get defensive or feel that we need to prove ourselves or show that we know everything. It is in these moments that we lose sight of what we can be learning from others. However difficult it is, it’s crucial in moments of defensiveness or embarrassment, to take a mental step back and just listen. Listen to others’ perspectives & knowledge and reflect before responding.

There will be moments when we will be required to correct someone in their knowledge or to share our different knowledge with others. In these situations, I believe there are certain ways of sharing that alienate audiences and that can make us seem harsh, judgmental and conceited. Just because we have knowledge that others may not, does not make us any better than anyone else; it makes us blessed and should inspire gratitude. This change of perspective can help our sharing of knowledge come from a kinder, more humble place.

I believe that educators must be learners throughout their lives. As learners, we must walk into every situation with an open mind. We must be ready to take in whatever we can and be ready to share our thoughts with kindness and humility. To me, that is intellectual humility.


Middle of the (School) Year Reflections


We are officially halfway through the school year! Can you believe it? Some of us are already enjoying our winter breaks and others are pushing their way through another few days of craziness. Either way, we’ve completed half of the 2017-2018 school year…and now we sit to think about how it’s going so far.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this time of year can often bring our biggest fears and doubts to the forefront of our minds. We can look at assessments or the behavior of our students in the last few weeks and wonder what we’ve been doing wrong this whole time. On the other hand, this time of year is a great time (once you’ve had a few days to just sleep it off) to think about how things are going – what’s going well and what needs to be improved for our students to reach success (however that might look) by the end of the year.

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What Do Your Students Think?

If you think you have an accurate assessment of how your school is doing, but you haven’t asked your students… you don’t have an accurate assessment.

-Amy Fast, @fastcranny

When we discuss the bigger picture of teaching and why we do what we do, we generally talk about how the central element is the students. We plan for our students, we assess our students’ learning and our own professional development is often for the sake of enhancing our students’ experiences. However, when it comes to thinking about what to improve or how our schools and teachers can get stronger, we don’t collect students’ thoughts as often as we should. If our kids are the reason we’re here, then why not ask them what we can do better?

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The Most Important Quality

While speaking with a colleague a few weeks ago, we got into a discussion about what it takes to be a good teacher. Obviously, there’s no list of characteristics floating around the world that tells us everything we need to achieve as educators. We began wondering if, within our own school system, we could create something which would enable us to work towards a defined list of things a teacher in our system should aim for.

While this process will take time, effort and lots of thought, I’ve been thinking on my own about what it means to be a good teacher. There are many, many articles and books and websites dedicated to creating the best teacher but how helpful are they? With the diversity of classrooms, students, contexts, and curriculums, can one list ever suffice for every educator no matter where they are? I don’t think so, but I do think that there are some characteristics that might be more generalizable than others.

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Over the past couple of days, I have heard from most of my coworkers about their reflections and thoughts about the school year. We were asked to reflect on our journeys throughout the year: as educators, as communicators, as researchers/scholars, and as leaders. It was really interesting to see the various ways in which teachers expressed their reflections and the things that stuck out to them in the above categories.

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