Professional Learning

5 Muhammad Ali Quotes Every Teacher Needs in the Classroom

June 7, 2016 Updated June 5, 2016

As a fan of boxing, it's easy to compare the world of education to this fascinating sport. Educators, regardless of their role, have ringside seats to a main event focused on transforming education. There are always competing initiatives (going toe-to-toe), which can be difficult to navigate. Despite the constant battles, those who want to make a difference never throw in the towel.

Teachers and students hit the canvas each day. Teachers work to create independent learners who can get themselves out of a clinch. When a student gets knocked down, a passionate teacher will ensure they are back on their feet before the eight count. Most importantly, effective teachers provide maximum opportunities for students to officiate their learning experiences!

In celebration of the the greatest, here are five Muhammad Ali quotes that have inspired me as an educator.

1. "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

If failure is always placed in the context of a summative, it is very unlikely that students will feel comfortable taking academic risks. Opportunities to grapple with problems and solutions are key to an environment that promotes risk-taking. Invite learners to ask questions and frame mistakes as a natural part of the learning process.

2. "I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was."

Social-emotional learning is beneficial for students as well as the teachers who work with them each day. Creating a supportive and positive environment is critical and must be accomplished with intentional structures and strategies.

3. "The man who has no imagination has no wings."

How can teachers provide opportunities for students to explore new ideas? Do teachers have time to cultivate imaginative thinking?  Makerspaces provide opportunities for students to create and innovate. Cultivating the Imagination: Building Learning Environments for Innovation discusses  the qualities an environment needs to possess in order for imaginative thinking to flourish. What is most critical is the understanding that the goal is not necessarily to create new content, but to "transform the context in which that content has meaning."

4. "Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer."

Huh?? This is the last reaction a student wants when they respond to a question or engage in discussion. In learner-driven environments, students are encouraged to participate in and lead discussions as part of the learning process. Set students up for success by modeling the differences between being reactive and being responsive.

5. "Don’t count the days. Make the days count."

Students need the why.  Personalized learning strategies can help facilitate an environment where students construct their own  understanding in a manner that suits their needs and ideas. Providing students with opportunities to make learning personal with help equip them with skills that transcend the classroom.

Continue to be champions of education!

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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