Friday, October 11, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | October 11, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

Think back to a time when you successfully learned something that was especially challenging for you...Describe the context of the learning situation, what made it challenging for you, and explain what ultimately enabled you to be successful with that learning. 

Many students find certain subject area topics difficult to grasp while others find them more accessible to understand. The same goes for picking up a new game, skill, sport, or technique. Whether you are an adult or child, a student or an educator, you have likely encountered a notably challenging learning experience before. We have all been there at some point or another in our lives. Whether the situation took place in a classroom or elsewhere, all learning experiences have some underlying commonalities.

Ready, set, go!
Though what makes something a challenge to learn varies from learner to learner, but what can make that learning opportunity a success or a struggle can look very similar regardless of the context. What is responsible for making something that is difficult to learn more accessible for the learner? Is it the teacher? Is it the nature of what is being learned? Does it have to do with some inherent trait of the learner? All of these elements of learning might have an impact, but each affects learning differently and to a varying degree.

When you think back to a time that your own learning experience went from struggle to success, can you identify what made the difference? What was the nature of that learning experience for you? Was it a project? A tough academic topic? A new skill? How did you feel when it was a challenge and what made you stick with it to success? Pointing out the features of a successful learning experience can help to inform the learning progression that takes place in classrooms and beyond. Whether it is a gymnast learning a new balance beam technique, an adult installing a new faucet on a sink, or a middle school student beginning to speak a world language, that which makes learning successful is an important consideration for teachers and students alike.

In general, what learning conditions and teaching strategies do you think enable you to learn most effectively? How do they compare from one context to another for you? Are those conditions the same for all learners? How about for all learners in the same context as you described? As educators, becoming aware of the hallmarks of successful teaching and learning, by tuning into our own successes and challenges as learners, can help us to enhance the success of all learners.

Image: "Ready, set, go!" by Judy Griffith