Why, as a teacher, do you engage in professional learning? Do you go to a workshop with a specific idea you’d like to cultivate or challenge? Do you read a book knowing what knowledge you want to build? Do you listen to a particular podcast or use Twitter or comment on a FaceBook post in order to learn something specific, or is the engagement itself enough?
In Australia, teachers are now being held accountable to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – which is not a bad thing. The Standards are a range of proficiencies by which a fair observer might evaluate the demonstrable work of a teacher. I think it’s good to have minimum standards if we are to promote ourselves as a modern, professional body of experts. Naturally, I’m not sure those outside the profession hold us to such high esteem, but perhaps that’s for another post.
What I’m wondering about is how often we actually consider what we educators do to learn as learning as opposed to necessary administration or essential knowledge/skill development simply to keep our professional heads above water. Because of this, do we sometimes simply forget to learn?
Many schools, systems and leaders are now using the term Professional Learning rather than Professional Development to draw attention to the process of learning rather than the idea of ‘development’, a more industrial term that suggests the filling of a pail…
How often are we aware of our own learning processes? We in New South Wales are now required (everyone from next year or definitely by 2018) to complete 50 hours of “Institute registered” professional learning and 50 hours of “teacher identified” professional learning every 5 years in order to demonstrate our growth as educators. Do we actually use metalanguage for our own experiences during these hours? Do we model the active, engaged, aware form of learning that we hope our students achieve by the end of their time with us?
Do our students ever see us learning? Do they hear us learning? If we promote ourselves as lifelong learners, shouldn’t we do more than shove it firmly under a bushel of paperwork and consider it done?
I love seeing people learn together at school, at teachmeets, at conferences and on social media. The beauty of these experiences is that they are – to varying degrees – public and open. We learn together, share ideas, grow in different ways, often without the burning light of accountability, but we do so in vain if we can’t identify how we have actually evolved, even slightly, as a learner.
I’m looking forward to many learning experiences this year both with colleagues and with students. Hopefully this blog reflects some of that. I hope you’ll consider sharing your learning too, so that in the craziness of school life we don’t forget to learn.