In the summer of 2010, after 16 years as a classroom teacher, everything changed for me. I read Dan Pink's bestselling book, Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, and although it sounds trite, this quickly became the most important book I'd ever read.
Although I wasn't one of those longtime teachers who was worn down by the system and needed to retire (I always tried to infuse fresh methods into my class), each school year ended with a renewed sense of failure. The things I tried, in order to improve my teaching and my students' learning never seemed to be enough.
I attended a cornucopia of seminars and classes to make teachers better, and I even presented at several conferences, on the subject of web-based instruction. So every August in those 16 years arrived with renewed vigor, but when the calendar turned to June, I couldn't get out quickly enough.
Redefining a teacher
Finally, the summer I read Drive, nearly two decades of what I’d done in the classroom was re-evaluated, with special consideration given to rapport-building, cooperative learning and classroom management. I asked myself plenty of questions. What worked with kids? What didn’t work? Why was the prior year such a monumental failure for a veteran teacher who had seen everything in the classroom? Most important, how could things have been different, and how might I apply everything I’d recently studied to my own teaching? Could I re-invent my classroom? How could I truly impact my students?
Once my own research and evaluation period was complete, I started planning, and I redefined a teacher. Another school year began, and I entered the doors and strode toward my classroom with a fresh perspective. I even changed my wardrobe, replacing jeans and golf shirts with slacks and a blazer. Armed with solid research and a powerful need for change, I was ready to rebuild my broken classroom and turn it into a Results Only Learning Environment, which led to my book Role Reversal.
Transforming teaching and learning
Unlike previous years, when I had simply learned a new activity or integrated a new Web 2.0 tool, that year brought a complete shift in the way I taught and the way students demonstrated learning. Gone were traditional worksheets, homework, tests, rules and consequences and, best of all, grades.
"Here's what I want you to learn," I would tell my students, sharing one of our learning outcomes. "There are many ways you can prove to me that you've mastered the outcome. You choose."
Suddenly, students were working harder than ever. Production in my class skyrocketed. Cooperation was at an all-time high.
This remarkable reform has made me a better teacher (more of a facilitator of learning, really), and my students love my class. Best of all, they love learning. Keep reading this blog, and you'll soon embrace results-only learning; it's changing education as we know it.