On my run this morning I gathered my thoughts about how I want to have an impact on my students lives. As finalize what I will be having my students do next week when school starts, I want to be able to summarize in my mind a philosophy that was easy to remember, and easy for me to review to help me meet my own challenges. And though I have frequently considered “what is my philosophy of teaching?” I think the question of “what do I want for my students?” leads to a different answer that’s worth considering.
This is what I came up with: SPEAC.
Of course it’s in the form of an initialism; when you’re away from pen and paper, it helps to use mnemonics, and this one felt particularly appropriate.
The letters of “SPEAC” stand for attributes I will foster and amplify in my students; they reflect my very-highest-level (meaning content-nonspecific) goals for student impact. SPEAC answers the question “what will our students be when they leave the classroom, if we are successful?”
Strong. Our students will be strong in the way they use their knowledge to defend and justify their ideas. They won’t just say they know things; they will have the strength of justifications that tie their knowledge together. They will know how they know things.
Prepared. Our students will be prepared to meet the challenges we, to the best of our foresight, believe they will face. They will be prepared to meet the challenges they set for themselves.
Equitable. As we empower our successful students, they will understand the responsibilities and ethics that such power requires a person to exercise in order that we all live in a just society.
Asking. Our students will know they are free to employ their powers of inquiry wherever they turn their eyes. They will know the power of questioning. And they will know how to make progress in addressing their own questions.
Confident. Our students will know themselves and what they are capable of. And while they should always retain the ability to surprise themselves with their excellence, they will easily believe the best about themselves, and inspire themselves and others.
SPEAC, the initialism itself, reminds us that in order to weave these attributes together, we must help students find their voice, to find themselves in our curriculum, and to speak about what they are learning with their families, their teachers, their mentors and their peers.