One my best friends and colleagues - Jon Corippo - has always described the role of the teacher as a Maker of Kings. He saw his role, as well as that all of all teachers, as one who helped each student become king of their own destiny – or really in charge of their own learning (master learner).
But how does this really work? Well, if one is going to be a Maker of Kings, then one has to first Create Their Own Kingdom. Every master teacher, or teacher leader, that I know has created one’s own kingdom. These teachers have created, and continue to create on a daily basis, a very special place where their students feel safe, feel inspired and feel like they matter.
When it comes to these teachers’ classrooms, or kingdoms, students inherently know that they are going to do something special, do something cool and do something that matters. They know that their interests, skills, talents and selves are going to be utilized and appreciated.
As a teacher, I was always very fortunate to teach electives. The idea of creating a kingdom always came naturally to those that teach electives. After all, we have students who want to be there and joined our kingdom under the guise, or mission, of some sort of common and collaborative purpose. It was easy to create a family, or family-like feeling, necessary to create a loyal kingdom.
However, this is not something that is only possible or pertinent to electives. This applies to all subjects, grade levels and classrooms. The metaphor of the kingdom seems relevant and applicable more than ever.
As a teacher creates and fosters their kingdom, there needs to be loyalty. This loyalty is not blind or born from fear, but rather that both teacher and student need to come together for the common good of the kingdom. It is a mutually respective version of loyalty. Students are loyal to their teacher and the teacher is loyal to the students.
There needs to be belonging. Again, this is not belonging in vein of being a commoner who has no choice, but rather that a citizen who believes in their kingdom and the leadership. And more importantly, they believe in the mission or purpose of this kingdom.
There needs to be voice. Students feel that they are valued citizens in this kingdom. They believe and know that their input, thoughts and efforts will all be appreciated and utilized.
Although teachers will and should try to reach every student, not every student will be part of every teacher’s kingdom. Each student will have to find that special teacher (or two, or three) to be part of that special kingdom.
It doesn’t really matter which teacher, class, course or subject, as long as each student finds a kingdom. The goal for our schools and teachers should be to create one great classroom kingdom after another where every student finds that special home or place.