Two Things Are True

This is essentially what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past 18 months

The real truth is I’ve been trying to figure that out for the past 20 years, ever since I shifted from teaching children to teaching adults. As much as we try to model the classroom experience to adult learning, I realize that pedagogy and andragogy are different. This is true not only in terms of capacity and perspective but also the environment. Classrooms have the advantage of a daily connection. In lower elementary, it means you’re spending hours each day with each other. You have time to connect and build relationships which we know is essential. We also have learners whose primary job is to go to school to learn. When it comes to professional learning, it’s above and beyond their main job. Even when time during school is given, it’s extra, let alone the time it would take to prepare for a substitute teacher.

Even under normal circumstances, teacher well-being is tenuous. Today many would say we’re in crisis mode. And yet, the vast majority of educators enjoy and value the need for continued growth. After all, the mantra of lifelong learning is best modeled by those sharing it every day with their students. But it remains complicated. With that in mind, here are but a few of the over 100 responses I had to this query.

While responses vary, a few themes are clear. Choice and well designed experiences top the list. This is where things align perfectly with the classroom experience. I know I’ve been working hard to acheive these two elements with varying degrees of success. The other theme that emerges is a flat out call to reposition the role of professional learning

My response was to agree but also wonder if that means we are in no position to learn. I think about many people’s response to the early days of the pandemic. Some couldn’t read or go deep into any content, others found it a time to learn a new skill or hobby like searching for the best solitaire app. Like grief, we all handle things differently. I realize there are many teachers who cannot move beyond survival and that needs to be acknowledged and honored. At the same time, there are many who are seeking support and in need of specific coaching. Structurally, some districts are not able or willing to create space for teachers to learn.

I don’t disagree with any responses here and this one hits home as much of my work does touch on the ideas of deeper learning. As an organization, ALP has shifted much of our work to designing resources and supports that address urgent needs of educators without having to have them do much more than use our stuff. And yet, as I think about what excites me about professional learning is not the content but the relationships that are forged and the true desire to help people achieve their personal goals. That’s part of well-being.

I still think two things are true. But that’s about all I know.