The term “lead learner” is something that has been thrown around a lot lately, although it has been term used since at least the 1980’s (if not earlier). Although some use it to replace their official title, I have argued that there should be more than one “lead learner” in any organization, whether it is the school or the district level. It is kind of like using the term “administrator” and “leader” interchangeably; one is fact, yet the other is dependent upon how others see you. You are not a leader if no one is following, no matter your title or position.
From the post discussing there should be more than one “Lead Learner”:
Should the principal/superintendent still openly share their learning? Absolutely. With technology now, that is easier than ever, but note I used the term “model” their learning. Administrators have been learning forever but it was hard to communicate and share their learning on an ongoing basis. That being said, there is a difference between a “leader that learns” and a “lead learner”, as one creates the notion that there is a “top learner”, where we should create an environment that in organizations, both inside and outside, learning by all is essential to success.
Still, I was thinking on why this term is being used so often now? Why is this so important? For sure, one reason would be the shift happening in schools and districts, seeing themselves as “learning organizations,” and that educators should be learning at all levels. This is a good thing. Yet the other aspect that I think is crucially important in this progression is the ability to share learning with ease. Technology has allowed us to make the process of learning much more visible on a consistent basis.
My last post on “Innovation to Best Practice,” was a chance for me to not only share, but process my thinking. In fact, I used the medium of writing, visual, and video, all in the same post. Different mediums may reach different people, but it is similar to creating a glass room into professional learning that all can watch and see. What I think is powerful through this process is that it gives educators the opportunity to watch the process of learning unfold before their eyes. Understanding this process is more important than understanding specific content. It is not that content isn’t important, but it is understanding that some information can change over time (remember when Pluto was a planet?) but also understanding that the ability to learn is forever. This is a skill that needs to be constantly developed.
We can anoint ourselves as “lead learners” all we want, but if we do not make our learning consistently open to others, it is no more than a catchy term with zero substance or credibility, nothing more.