Being a Learner

11 Aug

An educator can never cease to learn – but what makes learning meaningful to us?

My daughter’s preschool teachers have told me about (free) play for children and how much it contributes to their learning – I think the dynamic nature of play is the main contributor there, (I don’t have any definitive data about this, but to me it seems like common sense: being able to control the play and make sense of the sensory feed related to it).

I find being involved in education as a learner exhilarating. I find the role as student a valuable insight into what my own students go through. Having to access course readings, contribute to message boards, doing homework and getting valuable feedback help me in my own practice.

My NAPP experience this year is a constant challenge which I note is sharpening my skills as a practitioner. I am fortunate enough to have Colleen Douglas (Massey University) working with the SLT and Middle Managers in the appraisal process. This again has made me think about the way I am doing things. I will reflect on this in a later edition.

This leads me to a great post about learners and student by David Warlick. Thank you to JENNIFER BROKOFSKY who led me to this article which will lead to powerful PD discussion.

Every day I gain more information about how learning happens: with imaging techniques researchers are able to track what areas in our brain are active during learning. We know how each brain is different, and how learning is individual, and how different people manage and manipulate the knowledge in unique ways. As a student I wanted feedback not grades. I sought out opportunities for collaboration not competition. I like to be in control of my learning.

How about teaching? Are we still using the same teaching methods that were common hundreds of years ago? Teaching and learning are like the two opposite sides of a coin – inseparable but opposite. We educators must learn to match our teaching styles with the dynamic view of knowledge, and find new ways to facilitate our students’ learning.

We teachers don’t like to have someone tell us what to do. Very few students like that either. To have an effective educational system, we must understand that effective teachers are simply facilitators of students’ individual learning processes – and the ones who incite the spark of lifelong learning.

What do you need to do to find the old flame, and fall in love with learning again? How about some collaboration, flipping the classroom or blended online teaching? These are questions of reflective practice we should always be asking ourselves.

Professional Reading:

John Hattie: Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning| Chapter 9: The Contributions from Teaching Approaches

Notes from this chapter of John Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning‘

Exemplary schools who serve well students who have been struggling at school emphasise:

  • The engagement of students in the learning process,
  • teacher articulating strategies of instruction and paying attention to learning theories,
  • school buildings act as an infrastructure to support such instruction,
  • teachers provide constant scaffolding and modeling,
  • teachers attended to the day-to-day monitoring of students,
  • teachers seeking feedback about their teaching while also being concerned with,
  • making decisions about optimal challenging tasks to assign, and
  • seeking insights from other professionals.

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