One of the things most effective teachers do is create an education philosophy where they identify their core beliefs about teaching and learning and determine how those will drive their actions in the classroom and beyond. But since education reform needs to be a community effort, it's a good idea for us all to step back and do some real reflection on what it is we believe, too.
That's the suggestion of Chris Lehmann, the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy, an award-winning science and technology-focused high school in Philadelphia. Taking a cue from This I Believe, the international organization that gets people to describe "the core values that guide their daily lives," in an op-ed for the Huffington Post Lehmann asks us, "What are your 10 most core beliefs? What would happen if we all started posting them?"
And then he takes the plunge headfirst:
1. I believe that, in the end, if we were serious about reforming education in this country, we would start with three simple (but expensive) premises:
No classes over 20 in K-8. No classes over 25 in 9-12.
No schools over 600.
Pay teachers a living wage.
2. I believe that we have the ability to make this happen in this country, but not the political will. And I believe that is a national failure for which we all are responsible.
Lehmann then goes on to list out what he believes about other hotly debated education issues—from class size to making learning student-centered and applicable to real world problems. He finishes his list with a statement that every educator, parent, and community member should find it pretty easy to agree with:
10. I believe in my students. I believe in their ability. I believe in their creativity. I believe in their intelligence. I believe in their dedication to the things they believe in. I believe in their energy. I believe in their innocence, even when they try to act more worldly than they are. I believe in their insight. I believe in their ability to overcome obstacles in their lives that would make many of us want to give up. I believe in my students.
We all know words are powerful and in a world where so many pundits, policymakers, and politicians tell us what we should believe about education, actually taking the time to name what it is you believe is invaluable. After all, even if what you believe sounds like a pipe dream right now, in the end, that's what you'll work to make a reality in the future. So, following Lehmann's example, what would you list as your core beliefs about education?