“The biggest hypocrisy of the Education Profession is that the educators too often have become poor learners unwilling to leave their comfort zones to improve their learning. They are not “bad teachers” they are however victims of bad practices of a complacent education system. To be better educators, we first need to be better learners.” - Tom Whitby
I believe that educators do the best they know how. In other words, they can only do what they know. How can we as leaders assist teachers in increasing their knowledge and know-how? I believe it starts with the leader. Only when the school leader is the lead learner, can we effectively assist teachers in eliminating bad practices due to complacency.
As leaders, we should...
- Work to recognize what our teachers want to learn, as well as, what they need to learn. Then, make an effort to spark their curiosity. Keep teachers in their uncomfort zone. Ask the right questions and want to hear their answers. Assist by asking “How” and “why” and “what if” questions to stretch the boundaries of their minds.
- If a teacher has an iPad or iPhone, introduce the personalized magazine App, Zite. Assist the teacher in choosing topics of interest such as Education, Professional Development, etc. This is a great way to stay abreast of the latest issues and trends in education.
- Sit alongside a teacher and assist in setting up a Twitter account. Do this at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday so that at 11:00 a.m. you can introduce #edchat and participate together for the first time. Share a list of other chats that would be of interest to the individual teacher.
- Assist a teacher in setting-up an RSS feed. There are many different ways to do this such as Google Reader. Share specific blogs that would be of interest to the individual teacher. For instance, for 4th grade math and social studies, introduce Paula Naugle's classroom blog. Here is a link to Cybrary Man's Class Blogs.
- Urge teachers to take the time to practice what they learn. Curiosity without initiative does not translate into results. Many times it takes a change in behavior to cause a change in belief. Assist teachers by providing them the time and resources they need to put new ideas into action.
I truly believe the more you learn, the more you will want to know. By assisting and distributing expertise throughout your staff, the level of what your teachers' know and are able to do will increase substantially. Before long, many teachers will be challenging you as the lead learner!
A little assistance and a new way of learning can prepare educators to thrive in the ever changing environment that we face every day. Please add to the conversation. What are some effective ways school leaders can assist teachers in continuous learning?