Above the door leading into the Professional Learning room of a school I was visiting was a sign that greeted participants with this question:
What attitude do you bring to today’s learning?
It’s a great question to pose, as it forces its readers into a brief moment of reflection about their approach to the learning that awaits them on the other side.
After Further Review
After the visit and while riding around the hills and plains of Georgia, further reflection led me to ponder a different question, one that wasn’t posted or printed, but one that made me go hmmm?
Shouldn’t educators be passionate about learning without a sign to remind them?
The sign about attitude on the PL room door… I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing that it was put there either to prevent visibly-bad attitudes about learning OR in response to such attitudes in meetings past. I’ve been around professional learning for decades, so it’s not shocking to think that teachers (or administrators!) might be less than enthusiastic about some learning, but despite that acknowledgment, it’s still disappointing. How can we get our students to be passionate about learning if we aren’t passionate about it first?
It’s probably easy to contend that while we may not always be passionate about all professional learning, we can still be enthusiastic when in the role of teacher, particularly if we enjoy that content more. But here’s the problem with that line of thinking: the students may find the content intended for them just as uninspiring as the content from the PL room that the teacher didn’t engage with.
Passion For Learning
Here’s a question to consider: When you learn a passion for learning, isn’t everything else easier to learn after that?
Our students would be well-prepared for their next endeavor if they left their class at the end of the year, full of curiosity, a thirst to know things, and a satisfaction in the process and product of learning. Truth is, we don’t spend enough time on those things, but what if we did? Would our students approach their learning differently? Would the content we share be more readily mastered if we taught the value of learning before (and during) our specific instructional goals?
Back to the PLC Room
Let’s connect the classroom back to the PLC Room with this question:
Are your expectations of passion for learning higher for your students than for your teachers?
We have PLCs and other groups and teams of teachers all across the land who value learning, believe in collaboration, and treasure the opportunity for learning with their colleagues. There are a lot of these teachers and administrators in schools and systems all over the map. There are, however, teachers and administrators who don’t feel that way.
How about at your school? How passionate about learning are your teachers? How passionate are YOU about learning?
When you are leading learning with your faculty, are you modeling quality, empassioned instruction? PLCs and professional learning ought to be fun. How is adult learning normed at your school? What percentage of the time that your adults are in learning settings are they sitting and listening, and what percentage of that time are they talking, sharing, and doing?
One of your most important roles as the school’s instructional leader is to set norms for learning. Is the learning you facilitate with your teachers engaging? Are you passionate about it? Do you work to create a great learning experience with your teachers?
Good Goes Around
Teachers with a passion for learning tend to lead classrooms that foster that same passion. The principal and administrative team can fuel and foster that passion by leading professional learning and PLCs that circulate a love of learning among all its participants. When that passion becomes the norm, your teachers will race to get INTO professional learning and their PLCs rather than to race OUT. When you establish THAT culture about learning, you will thrive not only in PLCs but in your classrooms across the school.
And then you can take down the “what’s your attitude…” sign.
© 2018. Dr. Mark D. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.