How Can Teachers Reclaim the Joy and Power of Teaching?

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past 19 years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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Wyman Winbush
Wyman Winbush

I raced to my gate last month in the Atlanta airport exhausted but exhilarated of the work that I had done over the past two days in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

I struck up a conversation with the person next to me and, within moments, knew this was going to be transformative. Both Wyman Winbush and I are trained consultants and speakers who inspire audiences to take action in their professional and personal lives. This is a window into the conversation we had.

It was sparked by the essential question:

“How can teachers rise up to reclaim the joy and the power of teaching?”

  • All reverence is not outside looking in, it’s inside looking out. For example, if you have an educator proud of the work they do and excited to see their students, they will garner respect from students because they are passionate.
  • The challenge over the past decade is that public educators believe they can’t be creative and inspired because the job of a teacher has fundamentally changed. Self-esteem is at an all-time low in the teaching profession. When the “cheese” is moved, the most successful people assess the situation and plan how they can use it to their advantage. If you’re looking for reasons that the teaching profession is dead, you’ll find it.
  • Every change is an opportunity or a reason why it is no longer possible. It is a conscious, deliberate, daily choice to become excellent. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident, you have to plan on it. What can I do today to grow my practice? Professionals want to improve impact, imprint on students, inspire them, and motivate them to take on novel, rigorous, perhaps scary challenges. Your priorities are not the policies or regulations or restrictions. It is the price of admission to gain access to the power of the teaching and learning enterprise.

Three insights from the conversation to mull over during the end of summer vacation.

  1. Do post-mortem on victories and losses. The best coaches in sports make the best halftime adjustments. In life, every moment is halftime. What worked this morning? What can I do this afternoon to improve? Habit is taking stock of the immediate reality — evaluate, assess, and use that change to your advantage. It is hard to feel like a victim when you are in control of your inner voice.
  2. Aspire to be the next generation of life-changing teacher. Appeal to the champion, the hall of famer that resides in every child. We need to translate motivation into a habit of how we do school. The power of that relationship cannot and must not be thwarted by draconian policies and practices at the national, state and local levels.
  3. There is power in who we surround ourselves with. Seek out folks who want to improve and maximize effectiveness. Create a collective space where the students are in the center and our goal is to reveal the best in them.

N. Wyman Winbush, II is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Jacksonville University (MBA). He is a 24-year employee of IBM, where he currently leads their Eastern US Mid Market Software Sales team. Wyman has over 20 years of speaking and training experience. He has dedicated his company, Kairos International, to equipping individuals to accomplish their maximum potential through his tailored lectures, workshops, seminars and consulting services. He has leveraged his military experience, volunteer service, corporate savvy and spiritual insight to inspire thousands of people to make the most of their natural abilities, to “THINK BIG” and to enjoy the journey on their road to success. State Farm Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, IBM, and the US Navy are just a few of the organizations that have benefited from his “Called2Excellence” presentations which include themes such as “Managing Your Personal Brand” and “Excellence as a Business Imperative”.

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