Lots of educators, in their early years, might have had to fly by the seat of their pants. At least lots of educators I know that started out in the classroom when I did. Mid 80s. Our college preparation, with all due respect to my beloved alma mater, didn’t do a whole lot to prepare us. I could pull together a whiz bang bulletin board. We learned how in a college class. I read some pretty good young adult literature in another class. Otherwise, once hired into a job, we lived and survived with on the job training. It was literally, “Here’s your room, a key, a book, and we’ll see what’s left of you in June. Good luck.” Isolation was a professional given.
My first principal, one of my educational heroes, firmly told us rookies to not say anything at a staff meeting for 7 years. We wouldn’t have anything to add and wouldn’t know what we were talking about until then. At least I think he told all the rookies this. I know he told me. I also distinctly remember when he told me it was ok now to speak. He was pretty darn accurate in his timeframe.
Upon reflection, I would have had a lot more to say if I had read, studied, and discussed WAY different things prior to being hired or as part of continual learning after being hired. We didn’t have continual learning. We had a law that said we needed to get a master’s degree to maintain our certificate. I got mine in Educational Administration, never intending to use it. That theory held for 10 years. It would have been helpful to make use or even have knowledge of our current instructional framework (CEL 5D+), grounded in research based effective practice. It has provided lots of opportunities to grow and learn. Twitter has provided an abundance of learning opportunities. EdCamps weren’t a thing in the mid 80s. We were ‘developed’ based on someone else’s idea of what we needed to know, regardless of interest, background, position, or content. Reading great books by gifted educators like George Couros, Jo Boaler, Carol Dweck, Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, Matt Miller, Brad Gustafson, John Hattie, Eric Sheninger, Yong Zhao, and Vicki Abeles, just to name a few, wasn’t an option. Sure wish I had even heard of them somewhere along the line. I would have been a math teacher rather than an algorithm teacher if I had read Jo Boaler’s book, Mathematical Mindsets, for example. But, I didn’t. I read them all after I left the classroom and then the building.
Well. In a new role, I can do something about continual learning being a must. I can read all the above. Share gently from the above. Model twitter as a PLN. Host an EdCamp. And throw out offers for book studies with actual, current, dedicated hero educators. And guess what? Educators are taking me up on the offers. For example, we bought multiple copies of Jo Boaler’s book….and they’re all in educators’ hands, hearts, and minds right now. To quote George Couros, “Today, isolation is a choice educators make.” Our educators are choosing not to be isolated. We use our framework as a basis for ongoing discussion. We have more and more educators launching out in the Twittersphere. In fact, we’re currently doing our 2nd Twitter Smackdown, with daily prompts. We’ve hosted a districtwide EdCamp. And we’re reading and talking to each other about that which we’re reading and learning.
On we go into our kids’ futures.