How To Stop Working So Hard: Rethinking Learning

Traditional teaching strategies oftentimes create a passive dynamic in which the teacher “teaches the knowledge” and the student “consumes the knowledge” — but we know learning is not a passive endeavor. Rather, it is a partnership and thus requires the willing participation of the student alongside the teacher. This requires teachers to rethink their understanding of the roles of students and teachers within the classroom and to shift the work of learning where it belongs – to the students.

Intentional Teach Project

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When I took my first teaching job, I was given a book called Never Work Harder Than Your Students. I still have the book, although I’m not sure if I actually read it, and the book really isn’t the point here — it’s the message.

Never work harder than your students.

I definitely did not understand that idea when I first started teaching. In fact, I 100 percent carried the load in my classroom — from creating the lectures or slideshows, creating the graphic organizers and question prompts, making note sheets for students, and writing test questions or reading reflections. I did it all.

And I was exhausted at the end of the day. 

In fact, I described teaching as a job where you had to be “always on” — “always on stage,” “always ready to perform,” “always on.”

I didn’t realize that 1) this way of teaching was NOT serving my students, and 2) there were in fact easier ways to do things.

In this episode, I encourage you to rethink your understanding of the roles we, as teachers, play in our students’ education in order to free yourself from the “work” of learning (and shift that ownership where it belongs – to your students!)

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