Do You Like to learn new things? Do you want to learn new things? Do you need to learn new things?
Is learning fun?
I hope so.
Last week I asked a group of teachers if they looked forward to the first week of school, you know … the first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week. I asked for a show of hands of those who REALLY looked forward to that week. Surprise, surprise, guess what? Nobody raised their hand. That’s as shame, because in theory, it’s supposed to be a week to learn. But in reality, it’s a week that everyone wishes we didn’t have.
I asked that same group of teachers for a show of hands to my next question. I asked if they could learn whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, would they like that? This time, everyone raised their hands. Is this that big of a surprise?
What does this mean?
It means that teachers do want to learn. It means that they value choice. It means that they value freedom to learn on their own terms.
This is good.
It also means that, for those of us in administrative positions, we must listen to our teachers. We must value their time. We must give them the freedom to improve their skills. We have to give up control of professional development and the thought that we always know best what our teachers need. We must understand that the vast majority of our teachers want to improve themselves because they know that when they learn new skills, techniques, strategies, etc., then the students are the ones who will reap the benefits.
That’s why we are in this business of education … to help our students learn and grow and gain new knowledge and skills. That’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if you teach Pre-K, 3rd grade, algebra, or world history. The goal is for the students to know more at the end of the year than they did at the beginning.
I also know that there are teachers in all schools (and administrators too) who think they already know everything there is to know about their subject, their grade, and what their students need. These are the teachers (and administrators too) who do the same things every year at the same time every year. These are the teachers (and administrators too) who think all students (and teachers) are the same and they will learn it or do it “my way” !!!
These are the ones we need to reach. We need all teachers (and administrators) on the same page and able to admit that we don’t all know everything there is to know. We need to learn from each other. Teachers can not only teach their students, they can teach their fellow teachers, and they can also teach their administrators as well.
We are all fortunate to have those superstar teachers on each of our campuses. We must take advantage of their skills, their knowledge, their desire to learn and teach. If we do this, each of our schools will be a better place. Each of our teachers will be better and more able to teach. Each of our students will be able to learn and grow and become better people.
We all have those teachers who are constantly learning. And you know what, they don’t save their “learning time” to that first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week. To them learning is fun. But it’s more fun when they are in control, when they have a choice, and when they are given the freedom to learn on their own terms.
Remember this ………. learning is fun.