Helping Students Imagine the Possibilities

One of the most well known possibility thinkers of the 20th century was Robert H. Schuller.  He dedicated his life to building up others through expressions of hope and encouraging others to imagine the possibilities and pursue them.  Dr. Schuller would often ask, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” and would remind people that, “Impossible situations can become possible miracles.”  

Teachers dedicate themselves to the same kind of life.  In the book Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools authors William Parrett and Kathleen Budge share what they call “the pedagogy of possibility” in which teachers help students see and pursue a better future.  They provide the following practices for developing a pedagogy of possibility (pp. 143-144):

  1. Teach, model, and provide experiences that develop creative and critical thinking skills. 
  2. Prioritize literacy development.
  3. Foster belonging and create a bond between students and school.
  4. Personalize instruction based on learning needs, interests, and aspirations.
  5. Actively engage students in learning experiences for authentic, relevant purposes, which can help them envision their futures and foster hope.
  6. Use teacher language that supports academic learning, develops self-control, and builds community.
  7. Teach, model, and practice social and emotional skills.
  8. Develop executive-functioning skills.
  9. Integrate physical activity, exercise, and movement into teaching and learning.
  10. Develop students’ awareness of bias, discrimination, and injustice.

As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you might use these practices, as well as others, to develop a sense of hope and possibility in your students.  They will be grateful you did!

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