I wrote about my relationship and addiction to learning. It was just in the last week or so that I figured out why I have this compulsion.
I spent a bit of time over my spring break visiting the math blocks of some teachers in my district. Math has been my focus this year. I’ve watched just about every available webinar, gone to every possible PD session, and participated in a book study. The names of these teachers were given to me by our county math specialist as teachers who were rocking the classroom AND the assessment pieces. I wanted to learn from their magic.
As stated before, I think I’ve mostly got the classroom piece down…growth mindset, deep challenges, lots of open-ended problem solving. Although, there’s always room to grow. My math scores don’t always align with where I’d like them to be. They’re ok, I guess. But I want to be knocking it out of the park.
I read and watch and attend all of this professional development because I want to do it right. I want to know what thing works and then do that thing.
And so I went and learned from some phenomenal ladies. It was great. I learned a lot and got tons of ideas. I was hoping to find “the thing” that they did that I wasn’t doing. They all did small groups. They all did really engaging and challenging activities. Other than that, they did things a bit differently based on their contexts and learners.
I was walking out of the second of the three classrooms when it hit me.
I do small groups. I do really engaging and challenging activities. I do a other things differently based on my context and learners.
There isn’t magic that I haven’t found. They’re all doing the same things I’m doing. We’re all doing what’s best for our kids.
And, at first I was disappointed. I was sad that there wasn’t one right way to do it that I could quickly employ and all would be perfect. But as I thought about it, I’d truly known that all along. I know that one thing doesn’t work for everyone or every context.
And I realized that I knew what to do all along, I was just too afraid to stand up for myself and say it. I was looking for someone else who would prove unconditionally that what they were doing was the right way and if I did what s/he did, well then… I was in the right too.
Those teachers were doing what was right for them. Perfect? Probably not. Awesome? Definitely. Just as I am doing what’s right for me and for my kids. Doing what’s right for kids is right. Period.
The problem for me is that different people have different definitions of what is best. I’m often faced with teachers doing what’s right for them, but not necessarily for their kids. Because I tend to be more student-focused than others, I find myself on the defensive end at times. I’ve used the books, articles, webinars, and other people as a shield. If so-and-so says I should be doing it, then…
Of course, I want to have research and evidence to back me up. But it’s time that I stand up for myself because I think it’s right, not because someone else told me that it’s right. Right?
I worry too much about others around me are thinking. Should I take their opinions and perspectives and use them to tweak my own thinking? Sure, if it makes sense. Otherwise, I’ll use their opinions and perspectives to deepen my belief and articulate it better.
Will any of this stop me from being a compulsive learner? Nope. And I don’t want it to. But instead of combing every possible source for fodder, I’m going to think a little more deeply about what I’m learning and decide how it relates to my thinking. I’m going to give my thinking it’s own column and measure new learning against it to find out how they fit together. I’m going to trust myself and what I think too.
I think I’ve earned/learned enough.