Friday, 14 April 2017

Teachers: Why We Need to Challenge Our Thinking

Something I've really liked and admired about some of my teacher friends is that they challenge the way I think about teaching and learning. We all have opinions about best practise and it's all too common to get comfortable with one way of doing things. This can hinder our ability to consider different approaches that may benefit ourselves as professionals and most importantly the development of our students.

I think there is a real danger in complacency and sticking to the status quo. By doing so, I believe a number of things happen:

1. We develop an attitude that there is no better way to do something than what we are currently doing. There becomes that self-righteous belief that we are 'already the best and can't do any better and no one can convince me otherwise'. This closes our mind to new and powerful ideas that could change the way we teach and change our students learning behaviours for the better.

2. We don't take risks and as a result, we don't encourage our students to take risks as well. Ellen DeGeneres said it best when she said “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” This is a message that we need to encourage children to understand. We need them to know that it is fine to fail because that in turn is how we learn. As teachers, it's perfectly OK to test new ideas and if they don't work, then so be it. We can be truthful and say "you know what, I tried this and it didn't work, so let's try something different". Students appreciate that honesty and know that if you can admit to failing and learning then they can to.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by teachers that openly engage in professional discussion about best practise and understand its importance. In a nutshell, I wrote this piece because I needed to remind myself that it is OK to have my thinking challenged and likewise, it is important that I challenge the thinking of others. I want to do the right thing by my students and encourage them to be inquisitive, powerful thinkers and problem solvers. 

Thanks for reading. I'd love to know your thoughts on this. 


  1. Yes! It's so important. "Open-minded" and "able to engage in professional dialogue and maybe sometimes be wrong" are what I think should come first in an interview for a teacher.

    With that comes the responsibility of leaders in schools to guide and support teachers to bridge the knowledge gap, something that leaders need to be able to do with respect and kindness. Through this a culture of open-mindedness can be cultivated.

    Weirdly I've been writing a post on a very similar topic so don't be surprised if you see my quoting my own comment from here haha!

    1. Great minds think alike Em. Can't wait to read what you've got. Oh, and you are totally right; that culture is so important.