Open to Learning



This post has been rumbling around my head for the last couple of weeks and I've finally been able to put some perspective around my thoughts on professional learning. I believe strongly that everyone in education has a responsibility for continuous learning. This includes senior administration, administrators, teachers, support staff, custodians and facility services workers. What this looks like from an individual perspective can be much different. Some may choose to attend conferences while others may decide to read journals, work with a mentor or even take courses. The value of committing to ongoing professional learning is that you accept the idea that in order to bring your best to the people you work with, there is always something that can be improved.

In my experience being open to learning is not always the case and this challenges me on a professional level. How can I as an administrator help those I work with that are struggling with learning something new, changing their practice or engaging in professional learning? Here's what I've been mulling over recently as strategies to help educators become open to learning.

  • Offer to support or mentor the person as they engage in their professional learning
  • Make clear that learning something new is not about them, it's about the pressing needs of their students
  • Uncover their passion
  • Explore together the many different learning opportunities outside of traditional PD

Most likely there will be someone close to you that is unwilling to change. This is a given. But I also believe that those same people have a passion burning deep inside them, even if it is a small flicker. It is the reason they they became a teacher. The profession called them. I have to believe it.  An administrator's responsibility to find a way to support everyone, even those who seem unwilling to move. This is my learning, my problem of practice - how can I motivate teachers that from the surface seem unwilling to be open to learning something new. It will take challenging conversations and applying pressure with support, there is no doubt. But I need to be open to learning how to support these teachers. Our students deserve it.

What are your thoughts? Is there something I haven't mentioned that could help someone be more open to learning? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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  • Once again, you've done a great job of documenting a challenge that so many of us are faced with in our roles. This morning I read an article that was tweeted by @mraspinall entitled "To help students learn, appeal to what they value" You've touched on that same notion in your blog when you talked about "uncovering their passion".
    Like you, I believe that all educators wake up each morning and truly want to do what is best for their students. I'm wondering if we need to expand our own tool kit in terms of how we uncover those passions? Within our board we are now on a more contemporary path to professional learning and starting to use evidence of student learning as our starting point and from there, we are asking teachers to reflect on the impact that their practice can have on improving student learning. Will that shift, encourage teachers to expand their toolkit of strategies more effectively than a system message about the latest and greatest strategy?
    I'm also wondering if we've explored, supported and encouraged other forms of self-initiated professional learning such as Twitter, free online courses, etc.?
    I'm hopeful that you will continue to document your own learning as you work through the stages of this Problem of Practice, as so many of us can relate to it.
    Thanks for another great post.

  • David

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks for your thoughts on my post. It will be interesting to watch teachers as they work on their own problems of practice and hopefully expand their toolkit of strategies. Getting the message out there to teachers about the array of professional learning opportunities at their fingertips is one of my priorities.