Could you imagine a world where each and every one of us uses our talents and resources to nurture the potential that simmers within? Could we work toward developing an in-depth understanding of our unique talents that are awaiting to be courageously unwrapped and shared with others? What if we strived to build systems that focused more on lifting each other up instead of pushing ourselves and others down? Can you imagine a world that is grounded in cultivating our natural capacities while embracing creativity, critical thinking, empathy, collaboration, and communication? Don’t we owe it to ourselves, our communities, our colleagues, and the students we serve?
In the book Imagine If… Creating a Future For Us All by Sir Ken Robinson, PhD and Kate Robinson, they share, “Imagination is what separates us from the rest of life on Earth. It is through imagination that we create the worlds in which we live. We can also re-create them.” Sir Ken Robinson PhD and Kate Robinson add “Imagination allows us to envision alternative possibilities, and creativity equips us with tools to bring them into existence.” Inviting colleagues and kids to own their learning and reflect on their thinking instead of passively using their imaginations, we can empower them to engage, create, and collaborate, which ultimately leads to deeper learning. Speaking of imagining, I was recently participating in Dr. Katie Martin’s #EvolvingEducation #LCbookclub where Dr. Katie Novak shared her brilliance, “There is not one single practice we use that works for everyone…when you anticipate that someone might need support, design for it.” When we design meaningful learning experiences and allow students to be exactly who they are as they learn, imagine, and create, they could essentially be on the precipice of success and innovation.
How can we create conditions that remove barriers and open pathways for educators and students who visit our learning spaces to apply their imagination, create new ideas, and put their minds to work?
- Share your heart with kids, our most precious stakeholders: They are interested in who you were, who you are, and who you are striving to be. Invest in their hearts. Get to know who they were, who they are, and who they want to be.
- Be the trusted teacher: Welcome all students, value their stories, and empower them to explore their interests in inclusive, safe spaces. Take the best attributes of all of the educators you’ve encountered and be the best version of them!
- Learn from colleagues who make an impact: Collaborate, communicate, connect, actively listen, share your learning, empower, and celebrate others. Keep kids at the heart of your conversations.
- Be the human-centered administrator: Lead with empathy, recognize the gifts in others, involve stakeholders in the decision-making process, and build capacity from within. Show intrinsic, authentic appreciation for those you serve.
- Tell someone, YOU CAN: Give them a smile, a nod, a note, a glimmer of hope and encouragement. Help them say yes to themselves and embrace new people and opportunities.
Life and learning are not linear. Both are complex, unique experiences that can be challenging to navigate when we don’t have the right people in our corner who allow us to see things we haven’t seen before. Dr. Katie Martin says that when we embrace what we know about learners & learning, honor people in a space, help others develop a sense of belonging, and tap into strengths and interests, our learning communities grow. Could you imagine an atmosphere where we help others create the world we want to live in tomorrow?
About the Author:
Lauren Kaufman is an educator whose professional passion is to empower teachers to lead, share their gifts with others, and develop lifelong literacy practices in all learners. Lauren currently serves as a Director of Literacy K-12 in Long Island, N.Y. In her 16-plus years in education, she has served as an assistant principal, elementary classroom teacher, elementary and middle school literacy specialist, instructional coach, and enrichment camp supervisor. Lauren has led teams developing 73 Units of Study in reading and writing K-5, has provided educators with job-embedded professional learning, and has guided new teachers in acclimating to the culture and climate of a school system. She continuously shares her passion for learning by speaking at national and local conferences, serving on the #EdCampLI planning team, writing blogs, and being a guest on podcasts. She is a contributing author to George Couros' book #BecauseOfATeacher, Lainie Rowell's book #EvolvingWithGratitude, Edutopia, and educational journals. You can connect with Lauren on Twitter @Lau7210, Instagram @laurenmkaufman, or through her website laurenmkaufman.com.