Can you follow this “learning norm”?

Recently, I had a conversation with Tom Murray and Katie Martin about professional learning.  The one thing that bothers me is often seeing principals or superintendents that are there to “learn”, walking out of sessions when their phone rings to take a phone call.  Not all administrators do this, and I have seen teachers do this as well, but it is mostly admin when I do see it.

Does it bother me that they do it? Not really.

What bothers me is the thought of a student doing that in a classroom and what the response would be from an adult.  How would they deal with it if they saw it happening in their own classroom?  I don’t think kids are mini-adults and obviously, they are at different maturity levels. But if we are being honest, if kids attended professional learning and saw what some adults do (myself included in some cases), what would they think?  If the last sentence makes you feel uncomfortable, it should.

So as I worked with a group of administrators recently, I started off the day asking that they follow this learning norm:

All I ask of you today is to learn in a way that you would expect of your students.

That’s it.

I didn’t give any direction or thought on what that looks like. I just wanted the group to think about what that actually means.

I also said after today, what you expect of your students in your classrooms might change.

What is important to understand here is that what that means to me, might mean something different to another educator in the room.  That is okay and wanted.  It is just important that we have the discussion.

This is not to shame anyone into being better at a professional learning day.  It is just to get educators constantly focused on what it means to be a learner. I love this analogy from Seymour Papert:

If I wanted to become a better carpenter, I’d go find a good carpenter, and I’ll work with this carpenter on doing carpentry or making things. And that’s how I’ll get to be a better carpenter. So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning. But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools. We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.

If we want our students to become better learners, we have to think about what that means for us as educators, and what we would model to our students.

Just something I have been thinking about.

Source: George Couros

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