Why all teachers can benefit from seeing themselves as learning architects

Teachers as Architects author Gavin Grift provides some thinking on the topic

What has teaching got to do with being an architect, you might wonder? Doesn’t one teach students the things they need to know, and the other design expensive buildings?

In our professional learning program, Teachers as Architects of Learning, we believe strong parallels can be drawn between the two disciplines.

Just as specialist architects are experts in the design elements of their chosen profession, we view teachers as experts in the design of learning – who strive to use the best knowledge and methods that have maximum impact on their students.

Measuring your impact

In our decades of experience working alongside and coaching educators, we’ve found many teachers feel a huge tension between what they do and the impact they have.

Teachers often confide in us that they feel confused, anxious and lack the time to fully focus on what matters most to them – their students’ learning. Sound familiar?

So what are the obstacles?

There are typically common challenges that teachers face in becoming an architect of learning.

While learning should take centre stage in our schools and classrooms, as busy teachers we often feel forced to focus on delivering the content, rather than on how to construct the best learning experiences.

As learning architects, ideally we make all of our decisions through the filter of how to maximise student learning, not just because that’s the way we or someone else has always done it.

But in reality, that’s difficult when we’re making decisions on the run, or trying to reach a consensus with colleagues.

Sometimes, it’s just a lack of knowledge about different approaches or strategies, or not knowing your students’ specific needs deeply enough.

But probably the biggest hurdle is our own blind spots, and we all have them.

How to identify your blind spots

Many teachers are naturally reflective, but they’re often reviewing their practice through the lens of what they already know.

And that’s where working with other colleagues you trust is so important.

Making an effort to chat to other teachers about the way they construct learning experiences, and the methods they’ve found particularly effective for student learning is invaluable. One way to do is to arrange to observe each other, record each other’s classes or take notes on what each of you say and do in the classroom (without judgement).

Be open to reading, researching, asking more questions and thinking in different ways about your own teaching practice.

What kind of teacher do you want to be?

Just like an architect might constantly tweak their designs, you can continue to mould yourself into the kind of educator you want to be.

Consider how you can put learning – and not just teaching the curriculum – at the centre of everything you do so that your students are engaged and inspired learners.

We know that teaching can never be an exact science. And while we can draw on research, teaching is fundamentally a human endeavour.

So make sure your teaching strategies fit with your personality, views and beliefs, so they eventually become an extension and expansion of who you truly are.

After all, what’s an architect really, without his or her own unique style?

Want to find out more about our Teachers as Architects of Learning program? Click here.

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