Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does Learning Stop?

*some rights reserved. Copyright Mushon, via Flickr

Does one ever get to a point and say, “Okay, this is good, I don’t need to know anything else.”

I'm sure it’s easy to read this and assume that I’m just being funny, or even trite, but trust me, some of the behaviors I’ve been seeing lately are very difficult to even smile about, much less laugh at.

My frame for teaching, my context for everything I do has always been about doing what’s best for kids. There have been days when I’ve made better decisions than other days, but I still find that I’m motivated, in part, by reflection and determining how I can best do the job at hand with the tools and resources at my disposal. Meaning that when an opportunity comes along to help me grow as a professional, I participate and many times seek out those opportunities.

I understand that I am not like everyone, and that what matters to me may not matter to anybody else. But, I find it astonishingly hard to believe that some teachers absolutely resist the opportunity for professional development. For LEARNING. For doing the thing that they are teaching students to do.

Sure, we’ve all been to workshops that could have been taught better. We’ve sat in on district driven initiatives that may not have fit into our style. That’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. I’m talking about staying on top of your field. I’m talking about finding opportunities to grow in areas that interest you. I’m talking about stepping out of your classroom and joining the majority of teachers who DO value that which is beyond the four walls of a traditional learning space.

I’m surprised when a teacher’s first question about the possibility of an upcoming workshop is about whether or not it’s been “mandated.” I’m surprised at the animosity of teachers who are asked to participate in professional development, and refuse to let anything penetrate the veneer of professionalism that they think they exude. I’m surprised to hear a teaching professional, whose entire livelihood is based on learning, refuse to actually continue to learn themselves.

If you don’t practice what you preach, should you be preaching at all?

Don’t misunderstand, though, I’m talking about a small group here. Most teachers I encounter are excited about the possibilities of learning something new that will impact student achievement in their classrooms, or perhaps make their jobs easier. I’m talking about that small group of teachers who put forth the effort of showing up everyday, but pretty much stop there.

Learning does not stop. In fact, I believe that the easiest way to become an ineffective teacher is to stop learning, to stop participating in professional development, to believe that you can’t grow.

If that is your mindset, are you doing what’s best for kids, or what’s best for you?

This is the end of my rant. I just pray that when my child enters school that she has teachers that believe in the power of learning so much that they continue to learn themselves.


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