The Expert Within

Roles for educators are changing. There’s no doubt about that. The shifts are dramatic and many teachers, professors, instructors, course developers or content providers find it hard to find their way or share their voice. If you don’t understand your role, the classroom can be a daunting place. For every teacher, the aspiration should be to find the ‘expert within’.

circle with four characteristicsSo what if you feel you were born to teach?

What if you stumbled into the profession?

Can you find the expert within?

Rob Jenkins, in his article The 4 Properties of Powerful Teachers, shares some insight into this notion of finding the expert within. Through passion, preparation, presence and personality your inner expert is shared. Fine tune your personality traits, be ‘in the moment’ and 100% there for students when in the classroom, continue to learn and grow in the profession and the craft of teaching, and model a love for students and your teaching matter. Your inner expert will be revealed.

Within each teacher there lies an inner facilitator, initiator, and provocateur. Transitioning from traditional teaching roles of lecturer, guide, planner, assessor and enforcer, today’s teachers bring new skills and ‘ways of being’ (Skillen) into the learning space. Expert teachers bring forward many and varying roles – researcher, designer, questioner, collaborator, instigator, collector and provoker. Looking outward to find inspiration, looking to life altering events to spark the flame for expertise, and connecting to others who help you get better are all important ways to release your inner expert.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.15.04 AMExpert – in mind and deed!

Finding your inner expert is more than being aware of the 8 mind frames for teachers, although this can help you become more visibly present in your changing roles as an educator. What matters is how your actions reflect this expertise. Actions do speak louder than words so let your mind frames reflect your passion, personality, presence and preparation. Experts are shaped by the expertise of others so being visible helps us all become experts.

Finding the expert within takes more than a growth mindset (Dweck), although this is an important stance from which to learn about the craft and art of teaching. Believing that you can become an expert and improve your teaching practice leads to success. You are just not there ‘YET’ – but you are on the continuum to finding the inner expert. Learning within an ‘appreciative inquiry’ along with ‘evocative coaching’ (Skillen) will move your expertise along the continuum toward getting there.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 9.54.19 AMBeing mindful or teaching mindfulness can infuse a sense of purpose and an awareness of self and others, but won’t necessarily lead to finding your inner expert. If teaching mindfully only happens in thought not action, the expert within will be in mind only. Being attentive, balanced and compassionate –ABC’s (Kaiser Greenland) can help teachers ‘check in’ and become aware or pay attention. The recursive inner to outer experience needs to happen in thought and action. This becomes a foundational process for expert teachers – actions lead to thoughtful reflections that lead to more precise or effective actions. Focusing on mindful reflection about presence, personality, preparation and passion can peel away the layers toward the inner expert.

Being an expert isn’t an ‘end-stop’ moment. There, I’m an expert, now I can stop!

It’s a continual process of revealing the layers and roles to teaching that come from within. Our personality, passion, presence and performance shape and reveal the inner expert. Our mindfulness keeps us focused on why being an expert teacher is important – and it’s not about you.

image of two hands

Tawheed Mansoor https://flic.kr/p/dbQyGG

Finding the inner expert is about the face of the child, the human elements of parents who bring their children into your care, the colleagues who share your time and space, or the leaders who walk with you into day. Revealing the expert within is about being the best you can be for the children, students, or adults with whom you share all the roles in your teaching practice.

How will you reveal your inner expert? What roles shape your passions, presence, personality and preparation? Where will you share the expert within?

References and Resources

Dweck, C. (2014, Nov.). The power of believing that you can improve. https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve?language=en

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013, May). Inquiry Based Learning. Capacity Building Series, Special Edition #32. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf

Skillen, P. (2015, March 13). Teaching is a ‘way of being’ – part 1: Developing expert teachers vs. experienced non experts. Canadian Education Association. http://www.cea-ace.ca/blog/peter-skillen/2015/03/5/teaching-%E2%80%98way-being%E2%80%99-%E2%80%93-part-1

Visible Learning. (n.d.) John Hattie’s Eight Mind Frames For Teachers. http://visible-learning.org/2014/08/john-hattie-mind-frames-teachers/

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