Time To Learn

The school year is rapidly winding down and between keeping up with work and my own kids end of year activities I am missing my blog reading and writing. I have ideas and I am trying to catch moments to read everything I can. I can’t help but wonder how anyone is finding the time!

Dale had all the heart tests today and everything looks good for transplant so now we just wait to hear what the next step in the process is. We had a long day but at least it was all in one place.

I want to comment on a post by David Warlick “Of Course I Think It Matters” The part that resonated with me was this

“Sadly, we are a generation who was taught how to be taught — not how to teach ourselves. It’s one of the many reasons why the experiences that our children have in the classroom must become much more self-directed, relevant, and rich. They/we need to learn to teach ourselves. Teachers shouldn’t need professional development. They should be saying, hey, I’m going to teach myself how to do that this weekend. It’s about life long learning. Not about a life of being taught.”

Years ago I was working as a teacher’s aide in a special education 6th grade class. We were self contained for the most part and because of a grant we got a shiny new Apple 2C that sat in the box for a month before I timidly asked if anyone had a problem with me opening the box and seeing if I could do something with it. I then took a couple classes at the local vocational school in Basic and spent weekends typing rows of numbers and letters that would allow the students to answer a simple math program and if they answered correctly a little character would run across the screen holding a sing that said “great job!” The kids loved it and the teacher loved it when I wrote a little program that would let us average grades.

I took a few years off to raise kids but when I went back to work in a school (again as a teacher’s aide) I was the weird one who got excited about staff development. Someone was going to take time to teach me something for free! Yea! I was also excited because it was a time that I had no obligation to do anything but learn – yea again! For those of you who know me you know I have no degree. I’ve had a couple of college classes and some vocational school classes but other than that I am self-taught.

I know that a little part of what motivates me is the constant newness – there is always more to learn and even once you learn something it changes and I like the constant change. I know I can never catch up but that isn’t a bad thing for me. I like the constant surprise and discovery. I like being able to help a student figure out how to accomplish something with technology. I like to help teachers solve problems with technology. The only way I know how to teach is to learn first.
My question is – how can anyone teach and not love to learn?

3 thoughts on “Time To Learn

  1. Carolyn Foote

    That is a good question.

    We’ve been spending a lot of time working on rethinking our staff development this year. Our schedule has changed, and so teachers will have additional staff development time during the workday.

    Our staff development committee which was made up entirely of teachers and myself(librarian) designed a model, based on a teacher survey we did at our campus, of “study group” style professional development.

    Each six weeks grading period, teachers can create their own study groups (either within their departments or across departments) to study whatever they feel like they need to learn. They can read a book together, have a guest speaker each week, observe other classrooms, work on a particular teaching method they want to learn more about, etc.

    The stipulations are minimum–that they meet each week, that they write a short proposal so others will know what their topic is, and that they write a very brief summary of what they learned or created.

    We’re hoping that this will create some space for teachers to drive their own learning experiences and that it will also open up some cross curricular conversations.

    I think sometimes that teachers do want to learn, it’s just that they want to learn what THEY want or need to learn.

  2. Dee Post author

    I love that idea. While I love technology I know that isn’t everyone’s first choice. I will mention it around and see if I can plant a few seeds. thanks!

  3. Jerry Jarrell, librarian

    Hi, Dee.
    I had the opportunity to hear David Warlick at the Texas Library Association conference in April. He spoke at a private breakfast that a colleague invited me to. I have to be honest and say I did not know who he was when I went into the meeting room, but I will certainly never forget him now. The man is amazing and has so many great ideas for teaching and technology. I wonder if we could get him to do a presentation for Lamar County at some point in the future? Like the joint staff developments we used to have several years ago at Paris High auditorium. Just thinking out loud here.

    I enjoy your comments and ideas. Keep ’em coming!

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