A Better World Ed Teaching Unit

Teaching & Learning

Being a Better World Educator

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This is a unit full of teaching resources for every better world educator. We’ll be evolving this as we learn, and we’re always looking for feedback and new resources to share!


Really. After all, feedback loops and heartstorm sessions are the reason we’ve got better world curriculum today that educators love. So share your perspective anytime!


Note: some of the stories and lessons linked in this unit of teaching resources are only available with a membership. All proceeds from any membership go directly towards enabling Better World Ed (a 501c3 not-for-profit organization) to create more meaningful teaching resources to help you(th) love learning.

What is the role of an educator? Why does teaching matter? Why do some of us choose to become teachers and others don’t? What are the perceptions, biases, and judgments about teaching?


What are the things that make a teacher amazing? What are the assumptions WE have about teaching, and how might we practice curiosity before judgment about the role of a teacher?

How often do we reflect on both how and what we teach? Do we want to pass on how to maintain the world that is, or work alongside youth to create the beautiful world that can be?


How do we prepare youth to be socially, emotionally, and globally aware and brilliant, when we have all this academic stuff we’ve got to cover?

By the end of this unit…

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We will have explored these big questions and more! We’ll see the challenges that teachers face in different environments around the world, the ways teachers address those challenges despite obstacles and fears, and we will explore what we can do in our own work to become as effective as possible at helping youth love learning about self, others, and our world.

At helping youth become storychangers ready to make our society the beautiful, loving, amazingness it can be. We will explore what it means to Be WE as educators and as lifelong students.


Note: throughout these teaching resources, let’s remember to be curious and to suspend our judgments.

What does it mean to be a Better World Educator?

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Here’s a fun perspective (and pep talk!)

Think your classroom would enjoy making a video like this together? Reach out and we can coordinate and heartstorm about it!

Classroom Culture: Naming Values & Practices Together

“That day, I realized my students were capable of finding solutions to their own problems. I realized they had the capacity to lead and to be independent. I realized I did not have to be in control, and I should expect more from them. I realized the solutions and answers are in them. They do not need the answers to come from me.” – Annie


Read more in the fully story.

Reflect and Discuss:

“Is it helpful for a teacher to make all the decisions in the classroom? In my class, everyone has a say in the major decisions of the class. What do you think about this way of functioning? What would you do if you were part of a class like this? What might some of the challenges be?” – Annie

Lifelong Learning

What does being a student for life mean? What does it actually look like in the role of a teacher? Let’s explore what this looks like for David in Ecuador. 


Read more in the full story.

Teacher Empathy with Mrs. N

Write, Discuss, Reflect:

For teachers to explore: What do your students do beyond attending your class? How much time and effort might this take?
For students to explore: What do your teachers do beyond teaching class? How much time and effort might this take?

How can we better understand the lives, story, and overall human-ness of others in our classroom, school, and life? How can we better understand people we see often but might not interact with much, or might not know much about? Who are those people at your school? In your life?


Read more in the full story.

Some Big Reflection Questions

teaching resources for social emotional learning

Think, Write, Heartstorm, Discuss:

1. How does teaching impact our society? Self? Others? Our world?


2. What kind of impact do you believe you are making through your teaching work today?


3. We all want students to grow up believing that learning is a lifelong journey. In what ways can we SHOW this, rather than only tell?

4. Are the topics we teach about unchangeable? What are the ways in which students, teachers, parents, and school leaders can work together to see changes happen in the curriculum we teach? And does that matter?


5. In what ways did you appreciate your teachers as you grew up? In what ways do you appreciate and show gratitude to your students today?


6. What led you into teaching in the first place? What led others you know into teaching? Think back to the reasons you became a teacher. Try to reflect on them without judgment. Just simply look at those reasons. And now think: what has changed since? How has your perspective evolved? What have you learned and how has your understanding of teaching and why you care about it deepened? 

What do your students feel?

teaching resources for social emotional learning

Students as Leaders:

What are the ways in which you learn as a teacher? How do you show your students this? And in what ways do you support your students in being leaders in the classroom? (For example, we’ve heard some teachers share they have their students lead BeWE lessons entirely. Is this something you would try?)

Explore Success and Motivations with Suci in Indonesia

What does being a successful student mean to you? Suci has a perspective and it’s fascinating to ponder.


Read more in the full story.

Being aware of our school environment

Case Study: Bullying

“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways. Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point.” – Shane.


Showing this to your students as well? Watch first to see if you feel comfortable with some of the language used. And find more anti-bullying resources at http://www.bullying.org.


Hear Michael Clark, Principal at Norman Rockwell Elementary in Redmond WA, share his perspective on bullying and why he is an educator.

Teaching beyond the traditional classroom

How can we each be teachers in our daily lives? Is the word “teacher” restricted to the role in society that we think of? How might we be teachers in “non-traditional’ ways? Even as students?!


Read more in the full story.

Readings, books, inspiration, and teaching resources on this journey of learning to love self, others, and our world

teaching resources for social emotional learning

We’ve learned TONS from these books, and a lot of these humans have informed and had a big impact on BetterWorldEd.org.


This is not close to an exhaustive list of teaching resources, though we wanted to make at least some sort of a list for you(th).


If there’s ever a topic area you’d love to read more on and are wondering what to read next, never hesitate to reach out to our team!



— The Anatomy of Peace

— Leadership and Self Deception

— Walk Out, Walk On

— We Should All Be Feminists

— When Things Fall Apart

— Education and the Significance of Life

— Turning to One Another

— The Cost of Living

— Peace Is Every Step

— The Prophet

— Hope For The Flowers

— Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

— No Mud, No Lotus

— Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope

— No Future Without Forgiveness

— Happy Teachers Change the World

— Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities

— Maya Angelou (yes, please read all of her work)

— Start Where You Are

— Resources from our Humanity Unit, or from our post on Having Complex Conversations in our Classrooms — With Courage! Or in guest posts in the “SEL Is For Adults, Too” blog!


Bonus: Repeat with more people you can grow with. Learning is better together. 🙂

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