Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Three I's

Sitting in church on Sunday this summer, I got some incredible inspiration for becoming a better teacher. Now, mind you, the point of the message was about how to build into people spiritually, not intellectually. While I fully recognize this, the message was full of insight into being a better leader of people and help them  grow to be all they were intended to be.  Isn't that what teachers strive to do every day? (For those of you interested in listening to the message, feel free to watch the video here.)

Our speaker was Jo Saxon, originally from England, talking about how to disciple people and help them to grow.  She used plenty of personal history to talk about how she grew, watching over the shoulders of others.  In fact, she went on to discuss that the meaning of "disciple" is to "watch over the shoulder" of your leader.  She talked about sharing life with her mentors, learning from watching them live in the good and bad, talking through issues, and eventually being mature enough to step out on her own.

Obviously, as educators we are not going to take all of our students home with us each night to eat our food, watch us parent our children, and see us live our lives 24/7.  However, there is something to be said about the mentor/disciple relationship over the teacher/student relationship.

Jo broke this relationship into 3 I's:

  • Information:  Obviously, in order to learn more, you need to be given more content.  Without the building blocks of information, you can't do anything.  (As I saw one tweep mention the other day, you can't Google EVERYthing. We need to teach content.)  Some things are taught.
  • Imitation: Mentors need to be living examples for their students.  This requires relationship, time, and sharing.  All too often, we are ruled by the lesson plan, the objectives, or the Common Core standard and forget to let the kids see our lives and get to know us.  One really cool quote I took from the message was, "Their testimonies became my tools." As we share our stories and let kids into our lives, our testimonies can become their tools to live. Some things are caught.
  • Innovation: Turn them loose so they can do bigger and better things.  Talking of her own daughters, Jo said, "I want the ceiling of my life to be the floor of their lives." Isn't that what we want of our students?  When I look at some of my former students, I can say I may be the most proud of the ones who have exceeded what I may have expected: the microbiologist who hopes to do his doctoral work at MIT, the VP at Dropbox, the IT guy at Children's Hospital, my worship pastor, the social network guru.  
How many of us as teachers -- >ahem< mentors -- focus on all three of these aspects of discipling? I bet if we did an honest poll of teachers across the land, we would find that most of us hone in on only one of these, and a few of us try to nail two of them.  

The third I hits home for me.  You've read my blog enough to know that I'm all about innovation.  Not only do I have my pet Innovation Projects, but I also spend a lot of time talking about students using technology to create, not being consumers of technology.  Guess what?  If all I want to do is guide them into innovation, I'm missing some key aspects of mentoring.  

So, as I look forward to another school year, I'm committing myself to focus on all three.  I can't expect students to create unless I give them better raw materials to build with and show them a few tips on how best to make something to be proud of. 

Which one of the Three I's do you need to work on? 

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