This year I stopped being a teacher and instead became a co-learner with my students.
This year I stopped making my students jump through the hoops of content consumption, rote learning, and memorization of facts and instead began constructing learning environments that are conducive to fostering the development of skills my students will use as life long learners.
This year, the walls of my classroom became thin and we connected with others around the world.
This year, in our classroom, school became real-life.
This year my classroom ceased being a classroom and instead became a workshop of thinking, reading and writing.
This year, I let go of the reins, and placed my students education and learning squarely where it belongs: in their own hands.
This year I created my own personal learning environment, and began teaching my students how to do the same.
This year we changed the world — at least a little bit.
School in or school out, the learning goes on
And while school is almost over, my learning is not — because I’m connected. This summer, for vacation, I don’t plan to vacate or take a course that in the end would probably leave me tired and weary. Instead, I plan to spend the summer in artful restoration, through passionate, fun, deep learning. I won’t be listening to someone tell me how to be a better teacher. Those days are over. In reality, that’s not what my students need. And I don’t plan on pursuing my learning through any formal structure.
I used to think: “Give me a book and I can learn anything.” However, I don’t quite believe that anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I love books, and I have a number of them on my “to read” list this summer. But I plan to pursue learning through the connectivity of the internet.
I’m going to spend part of my summer teaching myself how to refinish furniture. I have a chair I want to reupholster. It’s been sitting quietly for 3 years. I even have a how-to book, but I still haven’t started. Why? It’s hard for me to understand how to reupholster using a book.
During a discussion I had with Dean Shareski, he told me about a person who learned to build cabinets from sources on the internet. Some of the sources he encountered weren’t that helpful, but a lot of the information was of superior value – so much so that he was able to build beautiful cabinets.
This summer I plan to put this to the test. I’m hoping by the end of the summer I’ll have a reupholstered chair. If not, I’ll likely have discovered 50 ways not to reupholster a chair. And when it comes to learning, that can be valuable too.
For me, it’s not about school being in or out. It’s about learning. And if you’re connected, you can learn anytime, about anything.
Latest posts by Shelley Wright (see all)
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bravo sweet. spot on.
hoping we get updated pics of the chair.
Enjoy the learning Shelley. : )
Great post Shelly. I love the fact that we are always trying to redefine tools that have been under our nose all the time.
Enjoy putting a face lift on your chair!
Thanks! Hopefully I’ll have pictures of a beautiful chair to share 🙂
I do a lot of studying via online design software classes, so I can relate to learning via interactivity versus books.
I work 12 months/year in education, so enjoy the summer for me!
Wow, 12 months a year! That shows incredible dedication 🙂
I took a year off which is extending into 2 now. Sometimes you need to do things other than teach. Sometimes you need to learn in order keep your perspective on life fresh.
Getting stuck in the same routines makes it easy to become complacent and stale. Then we forget to teach our kids with the same enthusiasm and appreciation we expect them to have. Gook luck with your chair!
I completely agree. I wonder what new teachers would look like if they had to take a course about learning to learn, rather than learning to teach, or only focusing on the theory of how their students learn. Instead, it would be an interesting experiment for pre-service teachers to assess and reflect on the ways they learn. There’s something about learning that is nurturing to the soul and causes growth, which, unfortunately, I think many teachers forget along the way.
One of the best thing I ever did for my career was take a year off. It solidified my desire to be a teacher, but also reminded me that I am a human with interests outside of teaching as well, and I am better when I am a whole person than just a compartmentalized teacher. I love the sentiments of your post.
Molly Flavin had tweeted a link to your blog.
Henry Ford once said…
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
We must be like the child if we are to teach them, i.e. learn along side them rather than be the source of learning. That doesn’t mean we can’t be there to guide them but it does mean we should be prepared to learn from them as well. Young, creative minds can be a source of some wonderful ideas.
I enjoyed reading your blog.
Thanks for reading! I completely agree with what you say, and it seems as teachers, we focus on our students learning and not our own — and then grow old too quickly. I love teaching in a way that I learn with my students and from them, rather than being the “all-knowing guru”!
Lovely post, children are familiar with and find enjoyment from so many different sources of information and ways of learning, to continue with only the traditional methods and not develop the innovative techniques would be foolish, this is not to say we should disregard the former, simply use both to the best of our abilities.
I wonder how many teachers have forgotten or lost the enjoyment of learning. I know I have at times. When there’s so much “to do”, it can be easy to forget about what’s important. And I think one of the most important things is learning from our students. It’s both humbling and rewarding.
“You go girl” I have watched you do all year long, and for anyone who can do what you have, no chair can get the best of you! Besides, now you have a learning network who will help you when you ask.
Yours is the best blog I read because the intimate honest voice of your reflection opens the way for me to step out in a way that is uniquely mine.
Thanks, Allison! Have a terrific summer!
Really useful bless you, I reckon your trusty subscribers might possibly want a good deal more reviews like this keep up the great effort.
Fantastic post! I especially like your own plans for learning this summer!