The Teacher Factor

I was excited to read the article, “More Students Are Graduating Because High School Is Getting Less Boring“, saying, “America’s high school graduation rate has reached an all-time high—83.2 percent for the 2014-2015 school year”.  This is great news and a nice acknowledgment of schools.  I was interested by this:

The president took that chance to tout some of his education initiatives such as investing in preschool education and a push to connect classrooms to broadband internet.

While these initiatives may have helped, education experts are still pondering why the graduation rate has increased. Could it be teaching the real-world skill of coding in classrooms? Or engaging group learning that solves world problems? How much did social and emotional learning where students are taught about self-awareness, relationships, and human decency have an impact? However you slice it, it seems like teachers are making school less boring, potentially keeping kids in classrooms long enough to graduate.

It would be extremely hard to pinpoint any one thing that has made this difference, but if I was going to take a guess, I would simply say it is teachers.  Teachers that are thinking differently. Teachers that are willing to try new things.  Teachers that are sharing and learning from others around the world.  Teachers taking ideas and putting them into action for their students.  Teachers shifting from focusing on engagement to empowerment and giving students ownership of their learning.  Teachers placing an emphasis on building relationships with their entire community.

We can point to “technology” or “initiatives”,  but people have to be open to these things, and then implement them, and make them compelling.

I made the case a month ago that simply from paying attention, I have known a positive trajectory change in many schools.  Although we can always continuously learn, we need to acknowledge these positives happening in education.

Source: George Couros


  1. Absolutely spot on. Haim Ginott put it this way:
    “I have come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

    January 5, 2017
  2. Elizabeth said:

    I love that the main message here is collaboration. Teachers are awesome but can be very isolated. Opening their doors to new connections within school and across the world is essential. It is frightening to make that jump to open your classroom door to others but there are people out there who want to support and are maybe not getting the opportunity. School librarians can not only work with you within the classroom but also help you connect to the wider world if you need the support to do so. All you have to do is start the conversation.

    January 6, 2017
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