Are You an Old Teacher or a Bold Teacher?

Back in December 2011, Will Richardson penned a provocative blog post titled, “Are You an Old School or a Bold School?” That article has been tweeted and retweeted several times over and some educators have gone on to further elaborate on his concept of bold schools. Will himself defined bold schools as institutions that:

Take serious steps to not only reinvent themselves, but to step out and advocate for a new, more meaningful definition of what learning means for our students, one that goes beyond simply “higher student achievement” or “increased student performance.”

Bold schools are places of questions, not answers. When much of what we currently think is important for our students to know is just a few taps on a phone or a Google search away, our central mission can’t be to deliver and test for content mastery. Instead, it must be to develop deep dispositions for learning by supporting sustained inquiry into both the content and context of whatever subject students are tackling.

via Are You an Old School or a Bold School? | District Administration Magazine.

For the last month, I have been consumed by articles and anecdotes on Twitter, blogs, and educational journals on the 21st century teacher – the bold teacher of a bold school. In fact, “Who is the 21st Century Teacher?” was my inaugural post in early January. Today, I met with a few administrators and faculty at my school to further develop that profile of the bold teacher.

Will noted that schools which do not take the “serious steps” noted above will find themselves irrelevant in the larger conversation of educational reform and innovation. Similarly, the bold teacher that does not engage in that same process of self-reinvention will find herself irrelevant in the broader dialogue.

We came up with the following list of characteristics defining the bold teacher (in no particular order):

  • Is an effective communicator and collaborator: views regular and timely communication as a necessary and effective tool to partner with parents, students, and other colleagues
  • Is a creative problem-solver, design thinker, innovative
  • Is flexible/adaptable
  • Takes initiative/ risk-taker
  • Is passionate about teaching, learning, and the age group they are going to be working with
  • Has clear and explicitly stated learning principles
  • Is tech-literate: familiar with social media and uses blended learning tools in and out of class to “develop deep dispositions”
  • Demonstrates a clear appreciation and understanding of how a diverse curricula and diverse student body positively impact a learning community
  • Engages in continuous professional growth – uses social media to remain connected with her PLN.

Are we forgetting something? Is the absence of any of the qualities listed above a showstopper for you? Please use the comments section to add to our list of the bold teacher.

P.S. In a later blog post, Will offered a more explicit definition of bold schools; to read that post, click here.


4 thoughts on “Are You an Old Teacher or a Bold Teacher?

  1. I also feel that a bold teacher is one that works with collegues collaboratively, with a positive, team building attitude, that lifts up the students he or she is teaching. With all the shift changes going on in education and how we are able to teach now the solitary, “closed door” teacher is a thing of the past. I see open classrooms, collaborative planning and teaching, and shared students part of the bold schools characteristics.


  2. How about: has the ability to make ‘old teachers’ in his school voluntarily want to change to ‘bold teachers’ by following his examples.


  3. Is willing to relinquish some sense of control and then empower and enable students to take ownership of parts of their learning. A key component of this skill set, in my opinion, is persistence. Students will resist. They have been trained so effectively to seek out the “right” answer or to figure out what that particular teacher is looking for. Resilience is key as well, because in this process their will be epic failures. But along with that will come epic victories as well.


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