Friday, April 11, 2014

From Teacher to Learner

As we march ahead in education, navigating a changing landscape - imposed by a variety of forces (e.g mobile, web based and social technology, economic shifts, globalization, etc) - I am sometimes asked for my opinion on what will make (or has made) the biggest impact on our ability to re-image (or re-imagine) education and school.

My answer has been somewhat consistent:

A teacher's disposition as learner first, is the greatest factor in our ability to re-image school.

Which got me thinking about the power of words.  What if the word "teacher" was replaced by the word "learner"?

I believe that words are powerful:
“A picture can tell a thousand words, but a few words can change it’s story.” Sebastyne Young
This video, on the power of words, magnifies this message beautifully : So, what if we replaced the word "teacher" with "learner" in all its contexts?  Would it assist teachers in coping with some the changes occurring in education? Would it impact learning in schools and classrooms? Would it impact pedagogy? What impact would this have on students?

In an effort to have a little fun, here are a few common expression with the word "teacher" and an amended version with the word "learner":

Common expression with the word "Teacher"

  1. Teacher
  2. I teach.
  3. I am a teacher.
  4. I teach students
  5. Those who can, do.  Those who can't teach.
  6. I don't teach curriculum. I teach students.
  7. I am a (insert grade level or curricular area) teacher.

Amended version - replacing "Teacher" with "Learner"

  1. Learner
  2. I activate learning for my students.
  3. I am an agent of learning for my students.  Ultimately I want them to be free agents with their learning
  4. I am a learner who learns with and about my students...
  5. Those who can, do.  Those who can't learn.
  6. I learn about how students learn.  I am an activator of learning for my students.
  7. As a passionate learner of (insert curricular/content area) myself, I activate learning for my students in...(insert curricular/content area)

Is this a small, silly or superficial thing?


However, I would contend that, when we see ourselves as learners first we can more easily  live and embody a growth mindset for our students.  When we see ourselves as learners first, we don't see change as a threat but rather as a way of being.  When we see ourselves as learners first, we are passionate about learning and want to share that passion with our students and colleagues.

By being learners first,we can more readily allow our students to be free agents with their learning - something our children and students will require throughout their life.

Still figuring it out......

1 comment:

  1. Sweat the small stuff because the small stuff is in fact really really BIG. Thanks for the insight Johnny. It is so simple and yet so profound. I am going to share this with my staff. Some will get it, some will trivialize it. I will work with both but it presents such a powerful metaphor about the way that we work with children that we CAN'T ignore it. Keep on ....." figuring it out."
    Cheers Trevor Connor