This summer, I read a number of interesting, informative and inspiring books. The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall was one of the books I read. Not only does The Connected Educator have a lot of information, it also has many “Get Connected” activities to truly get one involved in the process of becoming a connected educator and, more importantly, a connected LEARNER.
As you can see by the title of my blog, I feel quite strongly about learning. It really is ALL about learning! Where would we be without ongoing, lifelong learning? I just can’t imagine my life stagnant and not wanting to learn something each and every day. Can’t imagine. I have always believed that I am first, and foremost, a learner. Not a teacher first. Not a leader first. I’ve always been a learner first. I think that is why Chapter 3 in The Connected Educator, Learning to Learn, really struck a cord with me.
Here are some quote from this chapter which I feel exemplified how I feel about learning.
“Learning is what we do. We are learners first, teachers second.” (pg. 46)
Absolutely! What kind of learners could we possibly be if we weren’t continually learning? Things change in education. Research is conducted. Best practises change and evolve. As educators, we must continue to read the research and use these results to guide the way we teach and lead. We must continually adjust our practise to best meet the needs of our students. I often hear people talk about how our students are changing; they are getting more complex and diverse. If this is true (which I think it is) shouldn’t our teaching also change? Shouldn’t our teaching become more divers? How else can we possibly hope to meet our student’s diverse needs?
“Teaching does not make learning occur. Learners create learning.” (pg. 46)
Again, how can we truly create a community of learners if we are not learning. I continue to witness this in my own school. Teachers are continually learning and sharing their learning with others. As a result, they inspire others to learn more. In turn, this learning and the teacher’s excitement toward their own learning have great impact on their student’s interest and excitement about learning. How can it not? I am so deeply impressed by our teachers and their learning. We are truly becoming a community of learners. This makes me so proud (and makes me want to learn even more).
Another related quote from The Connected Educator is:
“True learning, deep retention, and knowledge construction really have little to do with school or teaching. We learn because we want to, because it’s important to us, because it’s natural, and because it’s impossible to live in the world and not learn.” (pg. 46)
Nussbaum-Beach and Hall quote Alvin Toffler when they write,
“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” (pg. 50)
This is so true! We must have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn. I can think of many examples of what I work on unlearning. It is a work in progress, and one that I don’t think is ever complete.
If you want to take a look at some of the things educators around the world are “unlearning” now, take a look at this WallWisher. There are many insightful comments and reflections written.
What do you need to “unlearn” as an educator?
What do you need to “unlearn” as a leader in education?
As I continued to read The Connected Educator, I could feel my self nodding in agreement when Nussbaum-Beach and Lani wrote,
“Connected learners take responsibility for their own professional development. They figure out what they need to learn and then collaborate with others to construct the knowledge they need. Instead of waiting for professional learning to be organized and delivered to them, connected learners contribute, interact, share ideas, and reflect.” (pg. 51).
Throughout my career in education I have often heard fellow educatory say things like, “I want to learn about ____. I need to get someone to give us a workshop on it.” This perplexed me because I always thought of the availability of resources and information. At our fingertips, we have an unlimited opportunity to learn about whatever topic we want to. There are 1000’s (or many more) of educators willing, able, and excited to share their amazing amount of knowledge. It is our responsibility to learn from these educators.
For changes in the way we learn as educators (and, in turn, changes in the way we allow our students to learn and respresent their learning), a lot of questions need to be asked and a lot of “unlearning” needs to occur. Consider the following questions:
What do we want our schools to look like?
Where can I learn as an educator?
How do I build my PLN?
What do we want our students to learn?
How do we want our students to learn?
From whom do we want our students to learn?
How do we make room for our student’s strengths?
How do we work with our student’s areas of weakness?
How do we want to prepare them for their future?
I am continually asking myself these questions (and others), but, instead of using the words, “my students”, I use the words “my children”.
I think of the opportunities for learning I would love for my own children.
My thoughts about what kind of education I want for my own children guides how I work with other people’s children.
How are you leading your own learning?
Are you truly a “life-long” learner?
How can I help you?