Becoming a Lead Wonderer

Oct 23, 2016

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Jennifer McDonough

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I recently saw a teacher on Twitter whose profile stated, among other fantastic things, that she was the “Lead Learner” in room such and such. I was struck by the possibility of that terminology and how different it was from the word teacher, which really just implies that “I am the giver of knowledge” and you are here to listen and learn. Lead Learner suggests that there is room for student ideas, expertise and questioning and sends a powerful message to the students that the teacher is not done learning either.

I do a lot of work with Wonder so I immediately applied this idea to my work. I got right on Twitter and changed my profile to Lead Wonderer in Room #2. Every time I see this, it reminds me that learning is not static and that there is also room for me to grow as a wonderer. If I’m not, there is no way I am encouraging it in my students. There is a saying that kids come to school as question marks and leave as periods and I think the same could be said of teachers. We bring so much bias and past experience into our classrooms from the teachers that taught us. We get bogged down by filling the day with curriculum to “get them ready” for the next day that we can forget the joyfulness of wonder and exploring the world. That there should be joy and purpose in learning. That content comes second to being an “explorer of the world.” When I began to consider myself and every student in my classroom, to be a wonderer I opened myself back up to the joy that comes from discovering new thoughts and ideas and I remembered to listen when students share ideas and questions. Not only to listen, but to celebrate their take on the world.

So now, I own my new status as the Lead Wonderer in Room #2 and I invite you to do the same. A slight change in terminology creates an enormous change in perspective. A classroom full of wonder is a good place to be!

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