- In 2020, educators had on their “superhero” outfits to bring about an educational revolution.
- Superpower traits that were discovered last year involve striking a balance, creating empowering lessons with student input, discovering your network, digital learning platforms, technology, learning what you don’t know, connecting, being yourself, gathering feedback, and embracing change.
As 2021 starts, a new year with new beginnings and opportunities for all, I wanted you to discover your passion for teaching, reflect on the practice, and be empowered.
I can’t help but reflect on the year, where we as educators embraced online teaching for the very first time globally. We learned about how to bring our voices to our students during the 2020 global pandemic from all of our individual homes, classrooms, and hometowns. All of us had our “superhero” outfits on to bring about an educational revolution.We learned about how to bring our voices to our students during the 2020 global pandemic from all of our individual homes, classrooms, and hometowns. All of us had our “superhero” outfits on to bring about an educational revolution. Click To Tweet
Here are 10 superpower traits I discovered.
Superpower Trait #1: Strike a Balance
To maintain any successful program, as an educator the key is to discover a work-life balance. Here is how I found this balance.
Set your office hours for yourself with a schedule that your students, parents, and administration are aware of, and be consistent in following it.
Be humble in your journey by putting your students first. Be there for them through the tough times and the good times in their educational journey.
Be your best self by taking time for yourself. Do the things you love that make you a happy, well-rounded person. For me, I love to cook great meals, spend time learning from blogs, and watching lots of movies for fun, in order to relax and be empowered.
I also implemented “Mindful Moments” in my online classroom. I created a Google Choice Board (see here) for each month so that students can find that balance between assignments, virtual field trips, and have opportunities to practice ideas such as keyboard skills and coding!
Superpower Trait #2: Create Empowering Lessons with Student Input
I always love getting to know my students and creating lessons that engage their learning. We as educators are all on a lifelong learning journey. There are lessons that are going to go as expected and open doors, and some that are going to shape our thinking so differently to create better ones. Mistakes are valuable in the journey. You know what works. Strategies and teaching tools are built by trying out that great lesson and making them phenomenal. That’s the magic in curriculum and connections that make it come alive!
Superpower Trait #3: Discover Your Network
“If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, go together…” is a quote I love. Isn’t this so very true?
We will all have ideas and opportunities to learn from each other.
- Collaborate always.
- Share ideas with others.
- Discover new perspectives that will enhance your teaching.
Here is a bookshelf I created that you can use to teach about Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights in Education. I wanted to have all books for the term on one Virtual Shelf so that I can use them to teach with and my students had access to reread the book as many times as needed.
It is important to explicitly teach about racism in society. I read this quote somewhere that “it is a privilege to be learning about racism rather than experiencing it,” which resonated with me.[scroll down to keep reading]
Superpower Trait #4: Digital Learning Platforms
I loved the opportunity to create my virtual class on Microsoft Teams as we created classroom meetings this past year. I saw the students and they saw me. We built connections and our classroom community.
No matter the platform—Google Meet, Zoom, or any other—there is no better way to make a successful educational platform than being able to see each other. That connection you get from making eye contact and getting to know someone has been invaluable as an online teacher!
Superpower Trait #5: Ah, this thing called Technology
So let me be clear, I am learning about what technology has to offer! It’s a process, a learning journey.
I have learned to problem solve, reach out for help when needed, and say, “I do not know but I will figure it out and so will you!”
I still sometimes laugh to myself when I am sharing a screen and my students say, “I can’t see you.” And I have replied “I have no idea how to make my screen share work alongside my video so you can see me, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out!”
Smiles! Guess what? I figured it out. It’s that superpower skill in teaching that shines through with working online.
Superpower Trait #6: Learn What You Don’t Know
I connected by learning things that I love so I added them to my online programming!
- Pick some organizational strategies for your lesson to be displayed. Choice boards, PowerPoints, and virtual bookshelves were mine.
- Digital platform for the classroom: Brightspace or Google Classroom.
- Build a classroom community with your lesson ideas.
Superpower Trait #7: Connect
Build trustworthy relationships. The relationship between a student and a teacher and a parent or guardian is important to maintain no matter how difficult the situation gets in any classroom. Empower a positive attitude to get through each moment that we experience. Be honest; you do not know it all, but if you have the student’s best interest at heart, all will always work out!
Superpower Trait #8: Be Yourself
This was the year I was so myself. I have my professional self and my personal self. I usually like to keep these separate, but being online connected both of these so naturally. The roles I have make me who I am. I am a daughter to supportive parents, a sister to a wonderful younger brother, a wife to a great husband, and a friend to many amazing people along the way. These are all roles that needed to be nurtured and I let my students see them last year! They all intersect and create me as an educator! I think I will carry this learning into my classroom daily.
Superpower Trait #9: Feedback is the Key
Take all feedback with a positive attitude. I gathered feedback from parents, students, colleagues, friends, my flower girls from our wedding, and cousins. I took everyone’s feelings and thoughts into consideration as I explored what my students required of me to be the best educator I can be!
Create opportunities to connect the class so that students can interact!
Superpower Trait #10: Embrace Change
Change, flexibility, and embracing new learning as an educator has been key to being able to take my traditional classroom and flipping it to an online classroom in a blink of an eye!
Can you do this? I say yes. Magically, somehow it comes together when you go in with a positive growth mindset.
How did I do it? I said my kids (who are my students) deserved me to be there to teach online and figure it out so that we can continue on this education journey.
Yours in Education,
About Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge
Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge teaches in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada with her family. As an Elementary School Teacher who is passionate about Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights in education she enjoys teaching the younger generation to be global-minded citizens.
Discovering the world by connecting with others is an opportunity that we have today in our society today and she loves meeting new people! She is always learning while traveling to understand the inter-connectedness of this beautiful earth we live in! Nilmini LOVES Cooking great meals, Watching movies, and the latest fashion trends! Family and friends are close to her heart as she looks forward to balancing social media and navigating professional learning communities in education to network globally this year!