Monday, April 14, 2014

Educational Buzzwords...K: Knowledge or the Life-long Learner

How do we instill in our students the willingness to always be learning? How do we instill in our colleagues the willingness to always be learning? What does it mean to be a life-long learner?

I open up my classes with this essay Don't You Think It's Time to Start Thinking? and I challenge them to rise to this essay every day. I challenge them to define what it means to think and then I hold them to that definition all year long.

Definition from
A lifelong learner is a person who continuously works on gaining knowledge and furthering his skills in a particular subject area throughout his lifetime. The learning experience can either be formal through education or informal through experiences.

["School House Rock!"]

For students:
  1. Let your students know that you care about them as people. In some ways that means meeting them where they media. If you are afraid of friending them on various platforms sets up a group where you, your students and their parents can communicate with each other about things school related, but also about things they want to talk about. I used to have a forum for my honors classes and there was a section where they could talk about anything they wanted to and there was a section where they could ask me about anything they wanted to, now I have various blogs and have branded myself through the use of FB, Twitter, Pinterest and so on.
  2. Let them get to know you...of course, at a level that you feel comfortable...I suppose not everyone is OK with students touching their afro in the hallway, but I'm sure you have a it to them!
  3. Be honest with them...we've already covered this to an extent, but also be honest with them about your curriculum, your knowledge and your ability. However, they don't need to know that you still don't understand [FILL IN THE BLANK], unless, of course, that helps them understand it. Show them that you are always learning.
  4. Show them that you are always questioning and changing and adapting to better prepare them for a world that is always questioning, changing and adapting.
  5. Believe in them. I believe all my kids are rock stars who can achieve beyond what they've shown and, in saying and believing that, I get the students to believe that too. I NEVER let them says that it's the best they can do and I don't like teachers who say that about their students.
For colleagues:
  1. So many people come out of teaching with an overconfidence that borders on ignorance and because of this they believe they are always right and that they have nothing new to them that there is always something new to learn by sharing with them your process of learning. This is even more important to show if you are a veteran, tenured teacher as 15, 20, 30 years in there's still stuff to learn and different ways to reach students.
  2. Don't be afraid to say you are wrong.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Don't be afraid to show your weakness.
  5. Don't be afraid to challenge others.
  6. Don't be afraid to do all of the above, often!

And, I leave with with another delicious TedTalk video:


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