Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Always Learning

There is a great analogy used by my Deputy Principal who borrowed it from a Principal that was at our school for a short time. "You would not want a surgeon operating on you who never updated his/her training, learnt new methods or consulted with colleagues and so it goes that you would not want a teacher who never engaged in these things educating your child".

One of our roles as teachers is to teach students how to be life long learners. It is hard to encourage students to be life long learners if those teaching them how to do this refuse to engage in new learning on a regular basis and implement this in the classroom.

Time is often the problem, I say 'often' as there are a number of teachers out their who, regardless of the time you gave them would do nothing and still use lines like.... "I don't see how that is relevant to me" or " Its always worked the way I've done it, why change?" ! Often time is taken away from teachers through long and often unhelpful admin meetings, attending training that is not relevant and completing admin tasks that are not directly linked to student learning but 'have to be done'. I know as a member of a leadership team I try to consider what it is I have to say in meetings..... is it relevant and useful to teaching/student learning and pedagogy or is it something that is going to waste staff time and I could cover in an email? Unfortunately I don't always get it right and some of the things I do take time away from staff doing their core business.

How as leaders in schools do we motivate those teachers who don't want to or feel they don't have the time to do extra to improve their teaching? Firstly, as energy sapping as it might be, we persist and show passion. Those teachers who continue to learn and have passion for what they do should be sharing their knowledge with their peers. Show others your passion for something and that may inspire them to follow. Secondly, and without this the first cannot happen, allow time to do this! It is one of the things we could always do better in schools - provide staff time to share their thoughts, ideas and practices on teaching rather than spend time over three terms in various staff meetings discussing where students should sit in the yard if they don't have a hat (three hours I will never get back)!

Many things get in the way of teachers developing their craft but in the end they cannot be used as excuses for never improving as a teacher. Our core role is teaching students the curriculum. Hand in hand with this (and more importantly) are the pedagogies we use.  If we do not take time to develop our knowledge and skills in these two areas why are we teaching?

Do you have:
  • Enthusiasm for life long learning?
  • Enthusiasm for improving pedagogy? (if the answer to this is no retire now)
  • Enthusiasm for sharing your learning?
  • The ability to taking risks with your learning and teaching?
  • The ability to try new things?
  • The ability to make mistakes and learn with your students?
  • The ability to change and adapt?

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