My only concern comes from my daughter's equating learning with frustration. One of the greatest challenges that I think we face as educators is helping students to find the short term joy in learning when they are feeling uncomfortable. Another challenge is helping them to reach the feeling of long-term pride in learning (that can only come through continuous effort, reflection and growth) before they lose the willingness to keep pushing themselves toward a reward they don't know is there, particularly if the direction of that learning falls outside of their interests.
In those moments, the effective teacher is the guide who reminds the learner of their previous knowledge, assures the learner that the risk they face isn't too great, and convinces the learner of their ability to succeed. Most importantly, the effective teacher designs learning that feels safe, that inspires wonder and curiosity, and that taps into student interest. The function of a teacher is to design learning experiences for each student that are challenging but not daunting, new but not scary, and fun but not without purpose.
When that happens, what keeps us coming back? A mentor who can show us that we have what we need to turn failure into success. A friend to remind us of the joy we felt the last time we overcame a challenge. A colleague to help us find a more engaging way to look at the problem. Maybe just someone to remind us why the work matters and to affirm the successes we've had.
That's what teachers do. I know that is what my daughter's teacher is doing for each child in that kindergarten class. She is finding a way to make learning seem easy, despite how hard it really is. I'm grateful for all of the teachers who have done the same for my kids at every level of their educations. I also realize that there are days when my students' teachers haven't been my child's super hero. On those occasions, I'm grateful that their teachers came back to try again.
To me, that is what we mean when we describe a teacher a lead learner. They are taking risks despite the uncertainties they face. They are constantly seeking to improve their skills and the experiences they design. They are reflecting on their successes and their failures and using those reflections to guide their practice. They are constantly looking for (and creating) reasons to celebrate the process of learning. In short, they are modeling for students the joyous work of authentic learning.
photo credit: Jeffpro57 via photopin cc