TEQ #10: Losing Sleep Over Other People’s Children – Rae Hughart

Education in the Modern Era

Throughout every facet of education, it is inherently understood a student will go through the school system to then take on a role in assisting their community. While many may criticize the number of people is not high enough who actually accomplish this task – and may spawk at the percentage of non-working members in our community – there is an alternative perspective.

Consider the percentage of students which grow to not only assist their world, but change it.

How do we ensure education in the modern era ignites the flame to inspire a student to become an innovator, idea maker, and leader? These individuals are often considered whole. They carry with them a full understanding of their craft, speak eloquently, understand the art of problem solving, and fail forward. They, unlike many, had the opportunity to be taught through their specific learning style to build on not only an academic understanding, but a whole body learning experience – shaping personality and questioning.

Imagine a classroom which did just that – consistently taught the whole student. Why are these classrooms in the minority?

Educators continue to slave away through this ever changing world to meet the needs of their students. Nevertheless, we continue to create new initiatives to shove down their throats. The elephant in the room each institute day is the connection one new initiative has to another. How will this new initiative or new leader blend with the already existing, research supported system teachers spent hours a year prior developing. Or will the old system, like many before it, be thrown in the trash as teachers accept the idea of starting over in their career each year?

We must change the conversation and discover the binding agent to hold our classrooms above water. What is the binding agent? Well, that piece is simple – the community.

John Dewey once wrote, “Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not preparation for life, but life itself.” He continued by communicating the urgency existing in the education system for teachers to not exist as the only element in the learning equation. Rather, it takes a village.

Classroom educators are frequently the cheerleaders for our youth. Teachers stock up on pencils over the summer, purchase classroom tools with money out of their own pocket, attend student extracurricular events outside of their work day, and work as counselors to our most needy youth. Educators are seemingly the only type of professional which lose sleep over other people’s children. And, even when the school year comes to a close, educators continue to feel a responsibility over the students who once sat in the desks of their classroom.

Imagine a world where the local coffee shop invested in the success of their youth. Where an Insurance Company CEO felt the responsibility for the success of a learner. Where those walking the streets of our town began to take ownership over supporting classrooms both financially, emotionally, and academically. What impact would that have on the current system? What effects would that investment carry long term?

In a Teach Further Classroom, students take on mock-internships sponsored by local businesses to begin each instructional learning opportunity with the “Why.” Then, learning continues through a community supported effort to add the necessary purpose into the task – not only developing dynamic lessons, but through the creation of real world experiences.

Students should not exist in education for eighteen years, only to then leave eager to experience the real world. Classrooms must learn to imbed content within an interdisciplinary model, utilizing soft skills, and building stakeholders to support students across the community.

This is how we grow innovators. Innovators need purpose.


Rae Hughart is a Middle Level Math Educator in Illinois and the Director of Training & Development for Progressive Mastery Learning, LLC.

Rae created and continues to trained educators on how to partner with local businesses to design dynamic, impactful, effective, and connected content by designing themed units dedicated to community engagement. Utilizing data supported best practice techniques and stakeholder ownership, Rae’s Teach Further Model for innovative lesson design transforms classroom learning into student focused, real world internship – showing the impact of teaching beyond the four walls of a classroom and altering a community into an authentic resource for developing leaders.

In 2017, Rae was inducted into The Illinois State University Hall of Fame for her innovative educational impact through the Teach Further Model. Additionally, Rae serves on several Educational Boards including the Association of Illinois Middle Schools (AIMS).

-Rae Hughart


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