Access to Breakthrough Teaching

”Teaching is a calling, a vocation that requires constant renewal of mind, heart, and spirit. Teachers come to the profession inspired by a passion to help others learn. They are drawn to education by an ethic of service and a mission to make a difference in the world by contributing to succeeding generations of youth. Good teachers care, and keep finding ways to connect with students. They do not check their hearts at the door.  Maintaining the passion to teach and lead wholeheartedly takes not only skill, it takes inner strength and spirit. Now more than ever, it takes courage to teach.”[‘Why Teachers Need Renewal,’ Public Education Network news blast]

Effective teachers convey a love of learning, give their students more confidence and inspire their best efforts, and interact effectively with colleagues, administrators and parents. They consistently produce remarkable results no matter what the circumstances – students with a history of low achievement, limited resources, lack of support from others, or drastic policy changes.

Virtually everyone who chooses a career in education envisions being this kind of teacher. Initially they are inspired and energetic, and no obstacle seems insurmountable. But their inner resources – creativity, training, capability, and love for teaching – no matter how formidable, will not sustain themselves indefinitely. As people struggle in either their relationships with students, or in navigating the educational system, they can easily lose touch with their original motivation. Too quickly being an educator becomes less about facilitating students’ learning and collaborating with colleagues, and more about surviving the day. Over time, educators experience frustration or ‘burn-out’ with imposed curriculum and accountability demands, leading to resignation and even leaving the profession altogether.

Teachers may not intuitively know how to consistently approach teaching with a spirit of invention and utilize their own brilliance, nor is this included in traditional staff development curriculum. And there is a tendency to regard the effective educators as people who were lucky to be born with the right qualities, or who have somehow ‘cracked the code’ to the art of teaching.

The Education Network asserts that everyone possesses the capacity to be an extraordinary educator.  Our Access to Breakthrough Teaching program is designed to enable educators to express this competence on a day-to-day basis. The ten sessions focus on the skills of thinking and interacting that allow them to maintain their passion for teaching, and enhances their ability to connect with students, parents, administrators and other educators. Results which are dependent upon these abilities are dramatically increased in both quantity and quality. The program includes exciting and thought-provoking discussions and exercises, and weekly practices which translate the program topics into results in all of their accountabilities.

In classrooms, teachers demonstrate the qualities they seek to engender in students – a love of learning, risk-taking, humor, compassion and accomplishment. They create a learning atmosphere that nurtures an increase in student participation and responsibility for their own education, resulting in an unprecedented increase in student achievement.

They also empower their colleagues in handling problems with more creativity and ease. In committee work and school initiatives, they support effective collaboration to address evolving challenges and opportunities, including creating new and unique solutions which lie outside the current framework of thinking and operating. Their leadership engenders courage among their colleagues to take the kind of bold actions that alter what is possible in their schools. Their involvement in district-wide innovation results in entire communities bringing forth futures of their choosing.

Participants also train their students in this methodology. “What It Takes to Survive Math” illustrates what the students in a middle school math class in the Alpine School District in Utah were able to achieve.

“What It Takes to Survive Math”

One thing you absolutely have to have is dedication. At least once a week you should review your promise and accomplishment. This helps you concentrate on gaining ground on your promise and helps you watch your understanding. It also gives your confidence a boost, which helps you learn better. You need to be dedicated to your goal though. Nothing else can be as important.

Another must is team work and integrity. For our "Term Promises" the whole class has to work together. If one of us doesn't keep our integrity and do what we all agreed to do, then the whole class misses the promise.

You also need a coach. Miss King is our coach. She helps us “stay on the court.”

You also have to have fun!  You should be prepared to laugh at your mistakes. You should probably laugh every day.

In conclusion, it takes dedication, teamwork and integrity, and the ability to have fun to survive math (or anything.)

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