By Zel Fowler
Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators
In order to reach all learners successfully, there must be an effort to reach out in a circular motion from within the rectangular prism we call a classroom. It appears that once the classroom door shuts, the act of teaching and learning immediately begins.
The truth, however, is found in alignment with the saying, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”
How can a teacher walk into a classroom and expect to engage new faces without knowing anything behind the eyes that they see? We must ask, “Who are these people and where have they been?”
Each year, teachers and students autonomously enter into a non-contractual agreement that engages them in the process of teaching and learning. No questions asked. This process voluntarily connects and trusts strangers with the objective to serve and acquire the product of academic achievement.
Education is one of life’s most important investments. Questions must be asked! Parents should be asking teachers, “Who are you and where have you been?” Teachers should be asking parents, “Who are you and where have you been?” Students should be expressing who they are and freely voicing the places they want to go.
Through this circular line of understanding, the child is the focus and the authenticity of teaching and learning begins. Multiple doors begin to open with directional paths that lead to meeting many students’ unique interests and needs—no longer contained in a classroom with assigned students, but engaged in a world that purposely requires a new world view. This vision shines beyond the protocols of standardized testing and teacher evaluations.
The teaching profession is not merely a system of ABCs and 1-2-3s; this is an extreme dot-to-dot situation that involves connecting and reconnecting with others.
Simply put, education is not a one-teacher act.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a teacher, visit Grand Canyon University’s College of Education for more information.
More About Zel:
Zel is an elementary school teacher who specializes in gifted education. She has taught for 10 years in the Roosevelt School District, and is recognized for her unique teaching style that creates partnerships and enhances student achievement. Zel is the president/CEO of the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators and founder of Arizona’s STEAM Enrichment Program (a collaborative initiative that engages students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics). She serves on the Arizona State Legislature African American Leadership Council and the Student Involvement Committee for the 2015 National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) conference. She is a 2015 presenter at the Chicago International Conference on Education and the NAGC annual conference. She is a recipient of the State of Black Arizona’s 2015 Community Luminary award. Zel holds a master’s degree in elementary education and is currently earning her doctorate in educational leadership.