Am I Empowering Students to Lead?

As we approach the halfway mark to the culmination of quarter one in our 2017-2018 school year, I have begun to do a lot of self-reflection as a teacher.  I am training for a half-marathon that kicks off in February, and I do some of my best reflections on long-run days.  The question that popped into my head was, “Am I empowering my students to lead and take charge of their learning?”

To give you some context about the exact situation, I have been leading the students through an intensive unit about life cycles through the lens of monarch butterflies.  We have raised Monarchs from egg all the way to adult butterfly and released them into our garden.

It has been an amazing journey to say the least!  The awe, wonder, and curiosity have been more than incredible for the students.  I could certainly hold my head up and take pride in knowing the students gained a love of learning and appreciation for the monarchs.  But then I keep coming back to the question, “Is that enough?  and am I truly empowering them to own their learning?”

I think in this particular case I am not!  I need to provide real leadership roles for the students.  Perhaps I will assign certain students to help Kindergarten students release the  Monarchs and teach them about the life as they do so.  On another day, maybe the students will lead the 5th grade students in a song about the body parts of a butterfly as they release more into the wild.  Even more, we will share the story of their great flight south towards Mexico with 1st grade students.

Ultimately, I want my students to own the learning, and not just be passengers on the journey.  I think our Monarch life cycle unit has been an amazing unit filled with great learning, but it is a few tweaks away from becoming something more empowering.  I think it is important for me, as an educator, to take that next step and really empower students to become leaders of their learning.

Until next time, let’s continue to be stewards of ALL learners.

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