Teachers aren't just educators, they're facilitators of the future
The job of a teacher is a multi-faceted and limitless role. Nurturing the doctors, engineers, creatives and builders of the next generation, every job role we have in society today started off with a teacher.
Education isn't just about teaching, it's about supporting children throughout their lives and giving them the tools to excel both in education, and in themselves. That's why supporting self-discovery at such a crucial age is an important part of an educator's job, and a fun one too!
We've created this teacher guide on how to nurture self-discovery in your classroom to support you in nurturing the next generation. This guide will help you to create a place for every young mind and help them grow and develop into amazing human beings.
“Kids deserve the right to think that they can change the world.” - Lois Lowry
Firstly, some simple ideas for every classroom. These notions are designed to support the self-development and discovery of each pupil:
Be an ear- By nurturing an open environment where your pupils are comfortable enough to come to you with honest thoughts and any concerns, it will allow them to talk through issues they may have with a trusted adult. It can also empower them to be their individual selves! Knowing they're supported no matter what is empowering.
Be inquisitive and always ask questions- Open questions create thought, always keep your pupils on their toes and ask them questions. It could be anything from how their weekend was, to how they're feeling that day. 'Are they ready to learn and excited to get to class? Showing you're interested in how they're doing can be a small action that creates a huge impact.
Allow failure- We all fail, no matter what age, stage or place in our lives. Nurture that failure and make a space where failure is okay, nobody has to be perfect. Some of life's biggest lessons come out of failures and it'll be the same for your pupils. Show them it's okay to fail sometimes, and that it can be a positive thing, a way to improve, problem-solve and try new things.
Create a supportive environment- All of the above points fit into this one crucial concept, ultimately creating a safe environment is the most important part of allowing your pupils to discover themselves. They're all at an important part of their development and having someone who can lead them in the right direction in a caring way can change lives. By making your classroom a safe place, a supportive space and a nurturing environment, it can pave the way for safe exploration.
“Children are not things to be moulded, but are people to be unfolded.” - Jess Lair
The compliments game- The compliments game helps your class to understand what makes each other great, and it’s lovely to share compliments about everyone too! To play this game, each pupil writes their name on a sheet of paper and passes it around the class. The other pupils each write a compliment in turn on the sheet of paper as the papers are passed around. At the end of the game, each pupil will have a page full of lovely things written about them. Not many people hear about their good qualities from others, so as well as generating creative ideas, this is a great exercise to boost self-esteem.
Two truths one lie- This age-old game is a classic and can also be used to encourage self-discovery. The game is played when each pupil writes three statements about themselves on paper, two are true, and one will be a lie. Each pupil will then read them out and the class must guess which of the three is a lie. To encourage self-discovery through this activity, you could pose questions and specify topics to steer the conversation in a positive direction.
Guess the pupil- Task your pupils with writing a few things about themselves, it could be anything from their hobbies, the name of their pet, how many siblings they have to their favourite teacher at school 😉. Put all the slips of paper into one place and distribute them randomly, then each pupil then has to guess which classmate's they've received!
A task with a purpose- There's nothing better than making a difference! Could you empower your pupils with a task that can help them leave their mark in the world? Anything from a beach clean, a litter pick, building an insect hotel or planting some veg. Creating something to leave behind can empower and build pride in your pupils, proving to them that they can change the world and even become the start of an amazing legacy!
“You cannot make people learn. You can only provide the right conditions for learning to happen.” - Vince Gowmon
Sometimes your pupils may need a helping hand on their journey of self-discovery. Here are some questions you could ask your class to help them discover more about themselves and unfold their wonderful personality:
What do you love?
What makes you smile?
If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?
Who makes you happy? What do they do that makes you smile?
What activities do you find fun?
Who is your favourite celebrity?
What is your favourite film?
Do you remember a time you made someone smile?
“Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places that they could not imagine.” - Yawar Baig
What do I do with this information?
Keep the support going! Help your pupils, ask questions and always nurture their individuality. Praise originality and exploration, celebrate self-discovery and highlight amazing work. Use the tools in this blog over time, throw in activities every now and then and create space for personal development. Ask questions over a certain time period and see how your pupils' answers change and how your class develops. You'll be the first to see the beauty of the future they have to offer.
“Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.” - Scott Hayden
Creativity is the perfect medium to encourage self-discovery and put young minds towards a wider goal. This is Me offers your pupils the chance to find themselves in writing, and share their voices among their generation. Check out our free resources here and find more information on how to enter. Celebrate your class and get them involved in this fun, empowering national poetry writing project.