An Empowering Reality

October 21, 2016

We have the opportunity to do some pretty special things as educators. We can build lasting relationships, empower our students, and practice possibility-thinking. We also have the option of sharing some of the important work our teams are doing with our communities. As if that wasn't enough, we can even join students for recess. (How cool is that?!)

 

Recently, our school created a short Virtual Reality (VR) video combining several of these things. To view the short VR video clip, simply grab your Google Cardboard and open the YouTube link on a cell phone. Then click the VR glasses icon to experience the video from the middle of our recess 4-Square game. (It's pretty amazing!)

 

 

For me, the true beauty of this video has very little to do with Virtual Reality. I'm more excited about the fact that our students will be empowered in yet another way to connect, create, and share their learning. 

 

One of the most innovative things we can do as educators is empower kids to learn to connect, create, and share with an audience that's authentic to them. Notice that I said "learn to," because kids are not born with all the skills necessary to connect, create, and share with discernment. They're counting on us to lead, model, and scaffold this type of empowered learning.

 

Here's an empowering reality to think about. Leading empowered learning does not require a big budget or shiny new technology; it requires a shift in thinking. Instead of being passengers or co-pilots, we need to empower kids to dream bigger and drive!

 

Seven questions to elicit reflection on learner empowerment:

 

1. Is it more important to teach a child to engage with content, or create new content and ideas, or both?

 

2. What does learner empowerment look like for this particular student, in this particular lesson?

 

3. When is the last time we asked our kids who (and where) their audience is?

 

4. Where are we displaying their work?

 

5. Could the audience (people or space) be different for different learners?

 

6. How might we be holding kids back from more opportunities to connect, create, and share?

 

7. Are we settling for engagement when we should be teaching kids to drive?

 

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Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 

 

Connect on email at:

AdjustingCourse@gmail.com

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