Josh Luukkonen is a junior high teacher and tech coach in Edmonton, Alberta.
Josh has 13 years of teaching experience in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and in Canada where he currently lives. His goal is to engage students in a way that allows them to be creative in their answers and allows for discussion and disagreement around important issues that come up in class. As an HP Teaching Fellow, Josh is excited about engaging with the broader context of education in North America and share learnings with colleagues in his district.
Josh on Powerful Learning:
What’s one strategy teachers can use for powerful learning?
“Provide an avenue for allowing students to ask more questions. We can’t just promote thinking by asking, ‘Who has any questions?’ We have to set up the necessary conditions to encourage questioning and we have to allow the space for these questions to stump us, embarrass us, or otherwise challenge us. So I look for opportunities to push students to look at their own lives and ask questions about how the material relates to them. Using their ethnic backgrounds, or religious upbringing, or other cultural touchstones is a good avenue for students to think about what matters most to them and respond in that framework. This helps build powerful learning because it shows students a few things: It shows that the teacher actually cares for them and wants to learn about them; It shows that they are humans capable of having worthwhile opinions and that those opinions matter; And it shows that their learning reaches beyond the classroom to their own lives.”
What do you hope education looks like in 20 years?
“In a perfect world […] students will be doing more things that are micro-credentialed rather than standardized tests. Lots of focus on creativity. Lots of focus on adaptivity and being able to change depending on what the job situation is.”
What book has influenced your thinking on powerful teaching and learning?
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Pablo Freire helped me to understand the social and economic conditions that shape my students. It helped me to develop a more political idea of teacher, concerned with justice and morality more than just test scores and homework assignments.”
Learn more about HP Teaching Fellows.