Looking Beyond the Label


I love chatting to the teachers throughout a day as their students participate in an experience. It is always an opportunity to hear about and share stories, beliefs, passions and teachable moments that have occurred in their classrooms/school communities or during the program. So many of the teachers who we support comment that they notice different aspects to their students throughout the day as they can take a step back and become a unobstructed observer. One conversation last week reminded me why this piece of the ‘learning journey’ puzzle is so important. Looking beyond the label reminds us of the authentic potential, contribution and connection that each of us brings to the table.

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for…” – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

One of the teachers came up beside me towards the end of the first session, telling me excitedly about a few of the students she’d been observing so far. She told me about their past histories, which involved suspensions, disengagement, etc. She commented how much joy she was getting from seeing how involved they were, how they were interacting with their peers and the way other students were leveraging their ideas and talents in the games, challenges and activities. She described how much she loved any opportunity to see the students in a different light. That awareness that this teacher brings into the many roles that she plays as an educator creates important ripples for each of the individuals in her spheres of influence. If as we navigate our journeys of potential we have advocates who look beyond the self or other appointed labels it can assist us as we explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically.

“We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. This is our permanent state.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It can be so easy to fall into labelling or feeling labelled within different areas of our lives. It’s one of the things I love most while working with individuals and groups. I have the opportunity to create a space and time where what’s happened before doesn’t have to define who we or others believe we are in this moment, or determine what happens throughout the program or from now on. Experiential learning is such a powerful vehicle to use in this process. When we’re involved in the physical process of learning (doing, then reflecting on experience), its transfer into various areas of our lives becomes much more seamless. The week before I got to chat to another inspiring teacher who we’ve been supporting over the past few years. Her feedback below reminded me of the purposeful way we seek to engage, challenge and inspire the students we have the pleasure of working with.

“I constantly see the students treated with respect and with positivity. I love how the learning intent is clear. I love the brain breaks. I love the varied pedagogy.” – Year 5 Teacher

What labels (for self, others or the world around us) will you choose to look beyond this week as you explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically?

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