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How can we support educators?
For non-educators building for educators.
How can we support educators?
I stood at the front of the classroom in May of 2018 as a second-grade teacher at a catholic international school for the last time. None of these details may sound important to you, but when I first heard this title- it made me feel like I had made it… to the next level of my teaching career. Here I was, an English teacher with various experiences at cram schools throughout Asia, ready to smash this next goal of career achievement.
Suddenly, 3 years later, with a pocket full of challenging experiences and trauma, I was stepping away from this role. Ready for a fresh start.
Since then, I have been building the future of education at Kubrio, a school redesigned from scratch. Our teachers are facilitators and coaches. The classes are check-ins, clubs, and bootcamps. Our library consists of 50+ on-demand courses ranging from topics like ‘How to be a standup comedian?’ to ‘What the Stock Market?’ and ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Writing Poetry.’ Students connect nearly 24 hours daily from all time zones in a self-directed environment.
We are creating a future of education my 12-year-old self would thrive.
‘Is this what it would look like?’ we continuously ask ourselves.
The educators, or as we call them, coaches and facilitators at Kubrio, roles remain crucial in the future of education.
Everyone has a memorable story of their favorite teacher. A cherished experience from a caring adult, someone who made them feel heard, seen, or important. The heart of a teacher is unmatched.
Many teachers in training are inspired from a young age by their great teachers. The path to becoming a teacher can be very undefined, like my personal journey. My next-door neighbor would take me to her second-grade classroom to decorate for back to school, sticking freshly laminated name tags on newly cleaned desks. I was in awe of the behind-the-scenes teacher life, something I aspired to become. During winter vacations, I would read over my cousin’s shoulder while she edited stacks of essays. Excited for the days when I could swiftly skate the pen across the page connecting the 1-0-0 and personalizing the feedback with each student's name. Each moment made me feel that teachers were put on this planet to educate and teach.
So how can non-educators best support educators?
Make them feel heard.
Find the ‘teachers room’ level of connections.
Build useful technology from the heart - make their lives easier
Recognize the compassion of an educator
And lastly… attitude is everything!
Make them feel heard. Listen to their pain points. Empathize with their experiences.
Teachers are naturally helpful people, solving problems day in and day out. They are on the front line (or in front of the classroom). If the parent or student shares feedback, listen, even if the solution is impossible.
And ask more questions. Your expertise as a non-educator can help bring a new perspective so that good listening can lead to great collaborative solutions to their excessive student needs, parent requests, and administrative demands.
Teachers, like many caretakers, have roles and responsibilities flowing off of the job description page. It’s not limited to teaching, such as counseling a child when he misses his mom or teaching kids to wash their dishes. The extra weight that’s undefined in this role brings exhaustion and decision fatigue. A study done in the 1970s-1980s revealed that teachers typically make around 1,500 decisions a day. A figure that is estimated to be much higher in today’s classrooms.
The validation of their challenges and the ability to understand their experiences are critical to support. Try an empathetic response of ‘I hear you’ or ‘Let’s collaborate on a solution.’.
Find the ‘teachers room’ level of connections
The peace and solitude after a long day. The teachers' room is the sigh of relief, a step away from students. Behind the scenes of school, like the back of the house at a restaurant. Building these connections, especially in virtual settings, are vital to the experience.
Teachers thrive on sharing ideas, hacks for behavior, classroom management, and how to deal with parents and everything in between. It’s the most supportive place to share, connect, and interact.
Their increased connections are a win-win for everyone. Supported and connected teachers empower one another and work together to innovate, create efficiencies, and lead and design new initiatives. All while caring for and delivering educational experiences for their students.
Teach first, tech second. Build useful technology from the heart to make their lives easier
Teachers want to teach. These advances should be focused on allowing the teachers to teach and bring a better educational experience first. How can tech be used to leverage the teacher’s expertise to deliver an even better experience with the use of technology?
Technology comes second. Teachers are well-educated and continuously trained in their craft, classroom management, curriculum development, scaffolding curriculum, etc. They are using the technology built by tech experts to leverage their teaching with these tools. Not the other way around.
Leaders Gen Inc summarizes…: ‘ The key to developing and enhancing your emotional intelligence is to become more attuned to both your head and your heart. Leaders tend to be focused on intellectual concepts, using their brains to solve problems and make decisions. But the brain isn’t the only place in the body where thinking happens. Thinking also happens in the heart, and you have to be able to leverage both to tap into your emotional intelligence.’
Recognize the compassion of an educator
If education and technology work together, the network of educators will be your biggest asset. Build for them.
Teachers are committed to their mission of helping students. It’s ingrained in their practices and methodologies. Teachers are constantly thinking of complex solutions, hacks for better classroom management, and anything to increase the efficiency of their work. Create tools that help make their lives easier.
And lastly….Attitude is everything!
Your attitude is everything. Educators are on the front line with the users, whether parents, students, or both. If you are not a teacher, it can be hard to understand the nuances and driving mission behind a teacher, this passion for helping students, the leaders of our future. It’s important to bridge the gap between technology and education to support educators.
Phrases like ‘I understand you’ and ‘would like to brainstorm a solution together to improve the students' experience’ or ‘I hear you’ is comforting and supportive. Not even teachers have all the answers, which some students may be surprised to learn!
This unique dynamic of technology and education can work together by listening and collaborating on a human level with educators. We can bring kindness and compassion to these interactions by creating technology with the heart in mind. Communicate respectfully and remember that these teachers, and those aspiring to teach, will be the memorable stories engrained in students worldwide that will continue to tell their stories or build education technology solutions for a more efficient teacher role in the future.
Nearly four years after leaving the international school on that sunny May afternoon, I realized that these supportive environments could be fostered and created without leaving the heart of an educator behind.
The future of education cannot exist without the heart of the educator.
Thank you to all of the editors and peers in Write of Passage Cohort 9 who encouraged me to publish.
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