Elements of
Teaching Brilliantly

In a recent blog post, What Does it Mean to Teach Brilliantly? I stated, "The future of education must include teachers who teach compassionately, from a strength-based perspective, and engage in equity-mindedness. Building inclusive, collaborative learning environments with students, families, and communities is critical to our future generations."

This is a critical aspect of education at all levels. In my faculty role in higher education, I have the privilege of working with pre-service teachers. Do you remember being new to the field? Not knowing what it had in store for you, but knowing you wanted to make a difference? I do! Plus, I am reminded every semester when I meet a new group of students exploring education as a career option. 

Jenning Prevatte, M. Ed.

Some have had great experiences in K -12 and fond memories of their favorite teacher; some have the opposite experience. However, they all strive to impact the future of education positively, to either provide students with a similar positive experience or a better experience than they had.

This brings me to the question, what elements are needed to teach brilliantly? To build inclusive, collaborative learning environments? We all entered this field to have a positive impact on it. But at what depth? Teaching is more than standing before a group of learners and dispensing information for them to learn. (By the way, a TON of research states this is ineffective teaching at ANY level.) Instead, having the courage to teach requires knowledge, understanding, skills, and abilities that help us connect to learners, engage them in the learning process, and inspire them beyond the classroom.  

1.       Relationships FIRST!

Building educational relationships is critical for creating a positive and effective learning environment. The Brilliant Teacher considers how they will develop positive relationships with each learner. Some ways to build relationships with learners include showing interest in their lives beyond the classroom, being approachable and available, providing feedback that inspires growth, and treating them with respect and empathy. Building relationships with colleagues and families (depending on your teaching level) can also enhance collaboration and communication, leading to better learner outcomes. And isn't that the goal of education?

2.    Understand the Science of Learning

Understanding the science of learning involves analyzing how the brain processes and retains information and identifying effective teaching and learning strategies. It involves understanding concepts like memory, attention, motivation, and metacognition. By applying this knowledge, teachers can improve their learning and teaching methods to support their learners. I value ongoing professional development and love sharing resources to help educators at all levels. Check out my Effective Teaching Book Recommendations if you want something to read to enhance your teaching. Several recommendations discuss the science of learning at each level of education, ECE, K-12, and higher education.

3.    Make Learning ACTIVE!

No matter what level of education you teach at, ECE or higher education…learning must be active. Early childhood educators know this instinctively. If they do not engage their learners in learning through play, inquiry, and movement, they ultimately experience challenging behaviors. This is not much different in K-12 or higher education. What looks different is the learner's behavior. The result is the same: learners become disengaged in the learning process when they are not actively engaged. We have all heard the phrase, "Experience is a great teacher." So, how do you bring active learning experiences into your classroom?

Here are some active learning strategies that will engage learners in learning and encourage participation and interaction with the learning material. These can work at any level; contextualize them for the age group you work with.

4.    Learner-Centered Teaching Approach.

Learner-centered teaching methods prioritize learners' learning needs and interests rather than solely focusing on the teacher's curriculum perspective. This approach emphasizes active learning, collaboration, and critical thinking and aims to empower learners to take ownership of their education. In addition, developing a learner-centered teaching approach creates opportunities for Learner Agency (again, no matter the level you teach at). The importance of a Learner Agency lies in giving learners the power to control their learning process. This can increase motivation, engagement, and a deeper understanding of the studied material. It also helps learners develop essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Ultimately, Learner Agency can lead to more successful and independent learners better equipped to navigate life's challenges beyond the classroom.

5.   Finally, Have a Strength-Based, Equity-Minded, and Flexible          Mindset.

OH! And be a lifelong learner…things change and adapt.
As educators, we must too.

A strength-based teaching perspective is an approach to education that focuses on identifying and building upon learners' strengths, abilities, and positive qualities rather than solely addressing their weaknesses. This perspective emphasizes recognizing and utilizing learners' unique talents, interests, and experiences to promote their learning and success in the classroom. In essence, having an equity-minded philosophy coupled with a strength-based perspective of learning creates an inclusive classroom environment for all.

Always remember!
You are talented! You are brilliant!
You connect, engage, and inspire the future! 

I am excited to share my new
Teach Brilliantly Toolkit
It includes a variety of resources to support your teaching practice.