Seeing the edge in education

G.A. Set = Big

Edge: Enthusiastic passion. The first winner spoke of passion and had an incredible enthusiasm for creativity and making her classroom a fun and engaging place to be. She wears a "learning costume" every day; no lesson in her classroom last for more than seven minutes; and she imagines that her students can hear thier teacher believing in them inside thier little heads.

Edge: Quality time. The second, a Golden Apple winning math teacher, emphasized the importance of time. For students to master algebra it would take extended blocks of time to focus on the lessons. And she set out to change the structure of the entire school day so that she could give her students the time they needed. She succeeded.  Math scores have improved dramatically and her students refer to her as "the best math teacher in the world." 

Edge: Humble collaboration. A reluctant librarian described the attention she was getting for simply doing her job as torture. She would much prefer being left to work with her colleagues to weave the resources of the library and the community into the lesson plans of the classroom. A library book doesn't always tell the whole story. Sometimes it takes a resourceful librarian to fill the gaps and enable the children to be active participants in their own learing.

And so the evening went. An edge here. An edge there. But nothing that tied them all together. No common denomonator. It was inspiring and disappointing at the same time. And then it hit me. What were they all saying? Some directly and others between the lines of their heartfelt acceptance speeches.

Edge: When the teacher becomes the student. They all talked about it or referred to it. Each and every one thanked their students for helping them learn and grow as a teacher. One winner put it this way, "I stand here a better person and better teacher because of their (her students) instruction".  Another quipped, "Your goofy ways keep me smiling and young. Always learning and moving forward". And yet another said, "I'm a tremendously lucky person. I'm getting an award for simply doing what the kids do for me."

A winning recipient once was quoted as saying that "The Golden Apple is kind of like the Acadamy Awards for teachers". If it were, I'd say it was for best producers. This year I looked for and saw the edge within the winners. No matter what they teach or how they teach it, these winners all exhibit a mutual respect and appreciation that is exchaged freely with their students. They bring enthusiastic passion, quality egagement, and resourceful collaboration to the classroom. They are humble and they freely accept that their students are doing much of the teaching.

There's room for some of that in every workplace.