“We have to stop thinking of an education as something that is delivered to us and instead see it as something we create for ourselves.” Stephen Downes
Traveling around and speaking at conferences, I have peeked my head into several sessions and try to figure out which ones have the highest attendance. One of the things that I have noticed is that if a session gives you something that you can use on Monday to do with the kids, they are most likely packed. I remember as a teacher going to conferences, I wanted the exact same thing.
I don’t have time to learn how to fish… just give me the fish!
Unfortunately, I am unable to give those sessions anymore. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I gave a session that focused on “teaching” as much as it did “learning”. Helping educators connect and learn in a way that will help them long term has been my goal, especially since one of the things that I have focused on in leadership has been building capacity. When I think of the term “leadership capacity”, I do not think of building the future principals of the world, but to help others become servant leaders. Helping them find ways to help others. For us to understand what our students go through, should we not try to understand how they learn?
One of the reasons that many people would much prefer going to the session that just gives them stuff “Monday ready” is due to the lack of time. Curriculum can become overwhelming and teachers do a lot more than simply teach their kids from 9-3:30. What I hope to see is that teachers, don’t look at what they have learned from one of my sessions and totally transform their work in one day; meaningful change takes time and your experience matters. If I can help teachers think about how they learn, and what makes them passionate about learning, over time, could that not change the way that their students learn? I am not going to give you “50 Apps for Your iPad” to use with students; those apps will become boring and then what are you left with? To transform our teaching, we will have to rethink how we and our students can learn in this world.
Doing sessions at convention and outright telling people that they will have to continue working on their learning after this session can be a daunting thing. If they do follow up and spend the time connecting with others and sharing their learning, the impact can become transformational, both personally and professionally. I have experienced this first hand as a learner when people took the time to guide me through Twitter and blogging and sat with me patiently, waiting for me to have my own lightbulb moment.
Every once in awhile though, I see tweets like this that know this focus on learning, can have a huge impact:
Thank you @gcouros for the intro to tweeting and blogging…the amount I have learned in the past few days=amazing!
— Shelley LaCroix (@Shelley_LaCroix) March 10, 2013
The quote that has always stuck out to me is this one from Will Richardson, and it will continue to drive the work that I do:
Meaningful change ain’t gonna happen for our kids if we’re not willing to invest in it for ourselves first. At the heart, it’s not about schools…it’s about us.
If we as educators continue to focus on our learning first, won’t we become better teachers?