Be the Adult You Want Your Students to Become

Would you take golf lessons from someone who has never swung a club?

I wouldn’t.  I don’t need Rory McIlroy analyzing my swing, but I want someone who knows the frustration of following up a beautiful drive with four putts on the green.  At the very least, I want someone who has really played the game.

When it comes to encouraging our students to reach their full potential, we need to show them that we’ve “played” and continue to “play the game” of being intellectually curious in our own right, aside from our time in the classroom.

Simply put, if we want students to become critical thinkers, we need to be critical thinkers.

We don’t need to be the most dedicated critical-thinking international activist in the world, but we must speak from a position of authority and authenticity when it comes to the values on the following list.

The List

Critical thinkers.

Problem solvers.




Compassionate human-beings.

Engaged global citizens.

This is more or less what we want from students, right?  I mean, we could certainly add to this list, and depending on your politics (e.g.  Ayn Rand followers) you might value one more than the others, but we’re happy as educators if we check most of these boxes when our students leave our classroom and move onto the next.

So if this is what we want for our students, and this is what we want for the world…

What do we want for ourselves?

If we’re willing to talk or tweet or blog about Growth Mindset, critical thinking, critical literacy etc, then we need to be able to describe how these things apply to our daily lives.  Having tangible examples of these qualities in action helps students understand the value and possibilities of what can happen when The List is applied in the real world.

Food for thought:

  • Teachers as critical thinkers.
    • What are you questioning in society?  What are you reading?  Do you talk, tweet or blog about contentious issues or the “big questions?”
  • Teachers as problem solvers.
    • Do you look for ways to help?  What innovation have you come up with, tried or wondered about lately?
  • Teachers as makers.
    • Do you DIY?  Are you looking for a way to put that innovative idea into action?  Curious about 3D printing or using traditional tools for novel  and unintended tasks?
  • Teachers as leaders.
    • How would others know you embody any of the values on The List?  Introvert or extrovert, do you find a way to express your ideas in a way that others want to listen?
  • Teachers as free-thinkers.
    • Are you comfortable deviating from the norm?  If something just “doesn’t sit right with you”, do you express concern or explore alternatives?  Do you dream about a better way of doing things?  Do you dream of a better world?
  • Teachers as compassionate human-beings.
    • Does your heart extend beyond your circle?  Is this evidenced in how you treat others on a frequent basis?
  • Teachers as engaged global citizens.
    • How do you keep up-to-date on what is happening in the world?  Do global issues affect how you live your life?

Can you speak with authority and authenticity about The List?

If you can’t, it’s never too late to start being the adult you want your students to become.


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