Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's Your Superpower? Lessons Learned from Superheroes

It seems like anywhere you turn now days there is a new superhero movie with the accompanying advertising and merchandising. Who doesn't love a good story where the good guy, usually the underdog, comes back against great odds to become victorious?

But, what is it about superheroes that appeals so much to us? Perhaps is the fact that they are seemingly ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Like us, they have ordinary jobs: computer programmers, newspaper reporters, photographers, a member of the armed service, or librarians. All of us can see a bit of ourselves in our favorite superheroes.

Also, we can learn valuable life lessons from our animated (and now live action) heroes. As many of us are beginning a new school year, here are a few of the lessons that apply in our classrooms with our new students.

  1. They have a secret identity. They realize that life isn't all about them (of course, Tony Stark and his huge ego is the exception). They go about their lives and let other people live their lives and solve their own problems. As teachers it is important for us not to become the Tony Stark of the classroom. That classroom and the learning therein isn't about us at all...it's about our students, their needs, their goals. Students today are masters of their own universe with the ever flowing information at their finger tips. They make decisions about what they learn, how they learn it, and how they share what they learn. They are connected with others 24/7. As teachers, it's our job to bring that into our classrooms. We need to give them the control and change our role to one of facilitator or lead learner in the classroom environment. 
  2. They always do what's right. Often superheroes are not popular, often being labeled as a nuisance or a vigilante. But, they also know that "with great power comes great responsibility." Unfortunately, often times when we try new strategies, techniques, tools, or lessons plans, we become unpopular with other educators. Teaching is not a popularity contest. It is our responsibility to do whatever it takes to reach each and every learner in our class. Be bold...think outside the box and try new things. They need our support, guidance, and leadership as they set their own goals and strive to meet them. 
  3. They dress the part. When a superhero shows up, you notice them. They immediately put the minds of those in distress at ease. They command respect. We should do the same for our students. They should be able to look at us and know that we do, in fact, have the ability to help them meet their challenges. They shouldn't have any worries in the classroom because they know it is in good hands...yours. You are the professional and although the classroom isn't about you, it sets a tone for your students about the expectations that you have from each of them each and every day. 
  4. They form alliances. Superheroes know that sometimes they are not up to the challenge alone. That's why we have the Justice League, Avengers, Fantastic Four and Xmen. They realize that that by working together, they become a much stronger force. It's the same with educators. All of us have challenges, but we are not alone. We need to find other educators who have experience, who have successfully met challenges, and who are willing to share. It's up to us to form our alliances by building our own PLN (personal learning network). With technology, it's easier than ever to build a relationship with other educators through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Second Life. We might be strong on our own, but together we can become invincible forces for our students.
  5. They save the world. We may not be fighting off Loki and an army of aliens (even though we may think there has been an invasion of the body snatchers with our students at times), but we control the worlds of our students. For many of them, school is the safest place in their lives. We don't know the struggles they face outside of the classroom walls. We must remember we have the power to change our students lives forever. 
So as we enter our classroom, for many of our students, we are a superhero in their lives. It's up to us to live in such a way that we deserve the honor and respect that our students give us. Best wishes as you set out to teach "Truth, Justice, and the Global Way."

 photo credit: Krissy.Venosdale via photo pin cc

1 comment:

  1. This is my first time visiting your blog and I must say...EXCELLENT!! Being a huge fan of Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and education, this was a perfect analogy between them all. In my world, teachers are superheroes!! :-) And...THANK YOU for mentioning that teachers need to 'dress the part.' If you want to be treated like a professional, you must dress like a professional! Well written, Julie!