In the follow-up to “The Innovator’s Mindset,” my book written with Katie Novak titled “Innovate Inside the Box” (expected release mid-August 2019), I identify three critical areas for learning by educators and why they are crucial. They are the following.”
- Learning about our students
- Learning for our students
- Learning from our students
The first two are pretty obvious and discussed often. Learning about our students is about knowing those in front of us and adjusting learning to not only help our students grow but to also tap into their strengths and passions as well. I always say that the most fundamental research we can do as educators is knowing the people you serve.
Learning for our students are looking at our professional learning and developing not only as teachers but as learners. How do we immerse ourselves in the learning that we expect from our students? We should never skip to the teaching without doing the learning. For example, if we want to implement digital portfolios with our students, do we create these for ourselves to understand the opportunities and knowledge that can be developed through this process?
The last, learning from our students, is about creating an environment that we understand there is a wealth of knowledge in every classroom and community that we serve that we do not have. Tapping into the wisdom of our students not only helps us grow but often inspires our students to want to further their learning to share their expertise. When I first started teaching, one of my courses was on technology, and I will admit, I knew little about the topic. Although I had some knowledge, I would often ask students to share their knowledge and expertise or help me when I ran into roadblocks. Once students knew I struggled in some areas, they would go out of their way to find other things that I didn’t know, and you could see the pride beaming from each opportunity they had to share something with me that I didn’t know.
I understood that with technology, you couldn’t know everything, but I also realized that this is true with every subject. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE TEACHER IS NOT THE EXPERT! But any person that is sincerely aspiring to be a master learner in any topic knows it’s impossible to know everything and that any chance we have to learn from others, no matter age or level of expertise, is a path to continuous growth and development.
When we create a community that we not only share our expertise but tap into and bring out the knowledge of those we serve, growth becomes the norm for all of us, not only our students.