Wednesday, September 15, 2004

THE POWER OF E

It’s back to the future in recent weeks. School is in session and I have the pleasure of working with an exceptional community of 28 fifth grade students at Lake Hills Elementary School. They are our future! And in preparing for this academic year, several words beginning with the same letter emerged in my planning.

Even for me, the energy required to engage in learning is something I no longer take for granted. It’s hard to get started some days. This engagement is truly volitional, an act of our free will. We choose to be engaged learners (or not). Are you eager to begin? Are you ready to turn on you “ignition switch” and to start your engine? These are key questions I ask my students (and myself).

Once students engage their engine, then they are ready to explore. Now they can journey where “no one has gone before.” Sure, I guide them in those explorations, but each learning trek is unique as each individual. Like Lewis and Clark and their motley Corp of Discovery, the journey requires qualified leadership. Teachers are that decisive element in the classroom, but they need help from parents who team in the exploration.

Another vital component of learning includes the ability to express yourself—communicating what you have learned and, in turn, educating others. I believe that exceptional learning communities provide a reciprocal function of teaching and learning. Kids are teachers, too! This key element of expression—simple or elaborate—
gives students considerable ownership and responsibility for their learning.

Lastly, parents and schools must be compelled to create opportunities for all children to excel. We must equip children to make a positive difference in the citizens they become. President Bush recently challenged us against the soft bigotry of low expectation. Isn’t it about time we really embrace the challenge of equipping ALL children for our future? If we can believe that none of us is as smart as all of us, then we are well on our way toward that goal.

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