Of all of the responsibilities of modern-day educators, I don’t believe any are as important, or empowering, as helping students realize their potential as difference makers in their school, community and world. Too often we speak about preparing our students for the future and ignore their ability to make a meaningful difference in the present. In doing so, we miss out on countless opportunities to engage them in truly relevant educational experiences and fail to ignite their passion for life-long learning.
In an effort to address this situation, educators can model difference making in their classroom, on campus and in their community through positive actions–the way they treat colleagues and students, and their level of activity and engagement on the school campus. More importantly, they can provide students with opportunities to participate in relevant and meaningful activities that have a positive and visible impact on others. This might take the form of persuasive blog posts, a community service project, peer tutoring, classroom/campus responsibilities…the list could go on and on.
We all like to know that we are relevant. Unfortunately, the traditional school setting has created a learning environment in which students frequently feel unappreciated and unable to affect meaningful change. That has to change. This is a topic that I am passionate about and something I have written about extensively. Below are some of the posts I have written that address how educators can foster an environment that encourages difference making among their students.* Do You Trust Your Students? (if you only read one of these articles, read this one) Empowering, and trusting, students to take ownership of their learning. How do you know my name? Help students become self advocates and make a positive name for themselves. Search for the Celebration Moments Every day is full of celebration moments, we just need to take advantage of them. The Power of Passion If you think you can make a difference…you can. May I Check Your Bags? Developing an awareness and helping others alleviate stress. Are We Cultivating Giant Killers? Moving beyond a factory model of school and fostering confidence and courage in our students. Forget the Forest, See the Trees Recognize that the little things have the potential to make a big difference. Developing the “Courage to Care” Developing schools of conscience. If you believe you can make a difference…you can!