As long as we talk about reaching every child – it is someone else's problem. Instead what we should each be asking ourselves is how to reach that child right in front of us. Then we reach the child sitting beside her, and then, new one who just enrolled. We must focus on the living breathing children in our eyesight not just looking at the numbers on a page. Reaching every child should be what we do. It is in the educator's DNA. This is not someone else's problem it is the problem of everyone who claims to be an educator.
They Are Everywhere
Wherever you work or are located, this is your problem because there are unreached kids everywhere. They surround us. You can make a child put their body into a seat in a schoolhouse, but they are the only one who can truly bring their entire being to school. It is a conscious internal decision to become educated because education is not something given.
You can't give a child an education.
Education is always earned. You can give the opportunity to be educated but you can’t force someone to be educated. Becoming well educated is a decision to make the best of the educational opportunity presented. (Yes, there are far too many who have no opportunity to be educated as well.)
Educators Who Care, Share Best Practices
Engaging Every Child Matters. So, as we meet and discuss this most important issue, we'll need to talk about engagement and effective use of technology (my forte) but we'll also need to discuss the responsibility that each of us have to share the best practices we discover in our classrooms, outside our classroom walls. There are some of us who are experts at helping students make the most of the educational opportunities they have.
Every Child Having Educational Opportunities Matters. Some of you specialize in providing educational opportunities to those who have not had them. You have best practices too that need to be shared. Because lack of educational opportunities often means a complete lack of hope. More opportunities must be given to all students of all races and genders worldwide.
Reaching Everyone: Intergenerational Learning
I'm a teacher in a tiny rural private school in South Georgia United States. Many of the farmer's kids I teach don't have high speed internet and computers. Yet, as we learn and work together, I've taught them that we have an obligation to share that learning with the world.
Right now, my ninth graders are compiling an Encyclopedia of Learning Games using evaluation rubrics developed by Dr. Lee Graham's graduate students at the University of Alaska Southeast. They are learning web design, programming, and game design principles as they engage in a project to help more teachers find more free engaging, high quality games to teach kids in their classroom. (See http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com for our work in progress and join us if you want to.)
This work has run alongside an OOC (Open Online Community) studying gaming in education run by Dr. Verena Roberts and includes a component where students create a serious game in Minecraft with Colin Osterhout. We were discussing just this week that really we’ve created an Intergenerational Online Learning Community that is as powerful as anything that we have experienced. We’re creating Open Education Resources (OER’s) as we study.
Sharing Your Story
I’m looking forward to the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai next week to hear the stories of others (and share mine briefly.) Some of the leading educational leaders and practitioners in the world are going to be there. If you're not there, you're still here reading this and you can share your story online everywhere you share. Your story is important. It matters that we help each other move forward because teaching is a noble profession but a very hard one.
Many of us are passionate about reaching every child. Never forget that the root of passion is:
Latin passiō suffering, from Latin patī to suffer
Having a passion for something requires sacrifice and giving all you have. Are you willing to sacrifice in order to help educate more children? There are no easy answers, my friends.
Engaging Every Child
You can be anywhere and help educators everywhere. But you must be willing to share.
As for me, I dream not only of helping my students learn – and I love them dearly. But I also dream of helping other educators develop the same nurturing, empowering relationship I have with my own students.
The 3 Essentials We Need to Reach Every Child
- Opportunity. First students must have the opportunity to learn.
- Engagement. Second, we must understand that education isn't something you give a child, it is something they earn. We must focus on engaging the ones we have. Alarming numbers of children are walking away from education opportunities every year. We must engage those we have to help children become more intrinsically motivated to learn.
- Sharing Best Practices. Likewise, excellent teaching practices cannot be given to teachers — we earn them with every moment we teach and reach out to our PLN. We sacrifice our time and energy to pursue this passion because we must earn the right to be called an excellent teacher. Reaching every child always starts with the one right in front of you. And it continues with sharing with other educators exactly how you did it.
Looking forward to continuing these important conversations with some of you in Dubai where we'll discuss all three.
Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher is an award winning blogger and full time teacher at Westwood Schools in Camilla. She is coauthor of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds and the upcoming book Reinventing Writing and has created more than 15 global projects connecting students around the world. She’s featured in the World is Flat, writes for Edutopia, and hosts a bi-weekly radio Show Every Classroom Matters on the BAM Radio Network.
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