Shifting the Educator Mindset: Takeaways from the experts

October 20, 2021
Smiling afro guy in headphones looking at laptop

What mindset shift do educators need to help students thrive in a digital environment? In our recent webinar: The Educator Mindset Needed for Successful Online Education, we went deep into the mindset of teaching with digital curriculum.

Justin MacDougall, an educator at Kingston City School, Sean Slade, the head of education at BTS Sparks, and Alyssa Gallagher with BTS Sparks, shared their collective insights on how this looks in practice and what we need to consider as online learning continues to evolve to equip educators with the mindset required to best support themselves and their students. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Online learning gives students flexibility

The pandemic has allowed us to move education—and education reform—forward. It launched a new era in which educators acknowledge that learning should take place both in and out of the classroom. According to Sean Slade, there will be greater expectations now for more options, and there will be added pressure for teachers and schools to accommodate that because students and families have now experienced it.

Justin MacDougall shared that many of his struggling students have benefited from online learning and have taken advantage of it. They discovered a new way to learn that works for them, and he believes many are not going to want to go back.

Mindsets drive behavior

Throughout this experience, we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t with online learning, but we also discovered the importance of supporting educators and talking about health and wellbeing. All of these considerations are precursors to developing the right mindset.

Alyssa Gallagher shared that if we're in a space where educators are burnt out, we're not really in a space to talk about shifting and improving education and thinking about new ways to meet the needs of our students. She believes that we must first develop and understand our mindsets to ultimately impact beliefs and drive behavior.

Changing mindset to create meaningful relationships

Alyssa shared that as both a teacher and a parent, what really struck her about the online environment was the intentionality that the teachers approached relationship building with students.

She found the classes her son enjoyed had nothing to do with content and had everything to do with how the teachers approached building relationships. These teachers saw that although they were teaching students , building  relationships came first. The online environment really forces educators to step out of your comfort zone to be in this place where you're vulnerable and you're willing to try things that you haven't tried before and you're willing to trust that your students will engage with you in this new way.

Finding the Silver Linings

Alyssa believes that the silver lining of the pandemic is that it truly broke down barriers. In some ways it exposed some cracks that we've known are there in education, and it forced us to address them. But as we look across the nation, schools and educators are creating new opportunities to learn. Our hope is this learning will continue to elevate the experiences we're able to provide for all students moving forward.

Justin summarized his thoughts that progress can be messy, but this experience has been a necessary mess. Through mistakes, we all have discovered shortfalls, and we’ve learned to innovate. We need to do that for our students. The industrial, factory model education is going away. The rest of the world is changing, and it’s time for education to change. This was a necessary step, and the pandemic just hit the fast forward button.

Listen to the full webinar:





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