Schools often like to say that one of their major educational goals is to create lifelong learners in their students. It’s an interesting goal to have considering so many teachers stop learning somewhere along the way. If teachers have stopped educating themselves, can they still ask their students to become life long learners? Teaching isn’t just about knowing your subject area but its about evolving pedagogically. Its about growing better. If your students are constantly changing then you should be too.
This isn’t always the case though and its a frustrating thing to see in the teachers that we work with. They are proficient in their subject, can teach the heck out of Pythagoras, but haven’t learned any new skills in a long time. They haven’t made the commitment to continually become better. That commitment leads to learning. Its somewhat understandable though, teachers have a lot to deal with at their jobs. Their jobs are difficult, their time is short, and their day is filled with constant pressures. But teaching is dynamic, its fluid, and there are always ways to improve.
Best practices change. Pedagogical techniques and theories progress. Technology is always advancing. Our kids are moving so fast that we have to do everything we can to connect with them and make their education relevant. If we aren’t learning how to do that we are just helping these kids fail.
Scott Mcleod recently wrote about the concept of creating teachers that are learners and making it operational at the school level. Is there a way to operationalize the idea that if you are teaching you have to be learning?
At the state/district level we require teachers to take college or professional development courses to maintain their certificate. Is that really effective though? We have all seen teachers that take courses to move up on the pay scale and remain certified but never apply anything that was taught to them. So if the application of learning isn’t there then is the learning still valid?
Can we evaluate teachers on new concepts that they learned throughout a year? If so, wouldn’t we have to evaluate how they implemented what they learned? I mean, sure we can have teachers write out or tell us what best practices, new pedagogy, or content area material they recently learned but it’s still not benefiting the student if they don’t apply their new knowledge.
Maybe in order to operationalize learning at the school level we need to monitor how it is applied in the classroom. We can always add another school policy, maybe one that requires dedication to continual learning and proof of the implementation of that learning. Or…….
photo courtesy of flickr user: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³