Teachers as learners…

It’s after 4pm. Everyone’s tired. The students have just left and we slump down for the planning session that none of us really feels like.  We have a few false starts as people get called out for different reasons and dash off to finish last minute tasks. Finally we settle into re-visiting the PYP planner from last year’s unit…

It’s a collaborative planning session for a Year 5 trans-disciplinary unit of inquiry.  The class teachers, specialist teachers, resource  and ICT people are all present. The central idea seems a bit problematic and a discussion gets going as to how we can refine it.  Do we want to keep the unit as it was and focus on the way eminent people make a difference in the world or should we broaden it to include any people?  Each one has a viewpoint to express and after some deliberation, we decide to change the central idea. We play around with the semantics of the language, ending up with: People have the power to make a difference, inspire others and enrich society.  We realise this means redeveloping the whole unit but we like the fact that this central idea provides the potential for student action. We hope to help them see that every person can make a difference, even  in a small way.  Students will inquire into people who have made a difference and enriched society, the attitudes and qualities of such people and how we might be inspired by them. We discuss whether sports people make a difference and enrich society. We consider whether people have to be good in order to make a difference.  We think about which key concepts will provide the conceptual lens through which we will explore this topic. We throw around ideas for a summative assessment task that’ll engage the students. And so it goes on… Opinions vary and the debate is rich.

Before we look around, it’s 5.30. The very same teachers who arrived exhausted at 4pm are now energised. The discussion has been lively and we are pleased with the results of our efforts. Our passion has meant that we were caught up in our learning and forgot the time. We thrive on these sorts of sessions… sharing ideas, exploring possibilites, discussing student learning, agreeing and disagreeing, thinking collaboratively, creating something new, learning from each other…

Before we leave, we share a laugh about the people we sometimes meet who ask us, somewhat disparagingly,  if we are still teachers. We are. And learners too. And we still love it.



8 thoughts on “Teachers as learners…

  1. Thats my girl…the only time you ever stop learning is when your heart stops forever, otherwise everyday there is something new to learn, like the colors and patterns on leaves /


  2. I know just what you mean Edna and have had similar experiences myself. When I worked in Amsterdam I was part of a year-long Project Zero cohort – we met at lunchtimes every 2 weeks. Before every one of these meetings I was always rushing around with lots of things that needed to be done before the afternoon classes and wondering how I could “give up” that time, but yet every time I came away from the meetings more energized than before and the discussions we had definitely made me a better teacher. I had a similar experience with the lunchtime ASITAC (All School Information Technology Advisory Committee) meetings – never seeming to have enough time but always coming away with great new ideas. However, I have to say there are plenty of other meetings I attend where I don’t get the same buzz. I think what makes the difference is that these ones end up as boring “business” meetings, whereas the ones where we feel we have really moved forward and grown as professionals are the result of us working with colleagues to question and reflect on our pedagogy and teaching.


  3. Thank you for this post. I experienced something similar a couple months ago as we explored the possibility of using collaborative teaching to help our struggling primary students. It was a Friday afternoon. We had started our discussions at 1:00 and before we knew it, it was after 4:00 (the meeting was scheduled to end at 3:30)! We were excited and left looking for how to turn our ideas into a real action plan. We are going to continue these discussions on Monday morning to get more concrete plans. Learning and collaboration with colleagues truly does re-energize us as educators. I think that this is why I have also become somewhat enamoured with my Twitter PLN. Every day I am learning new things and sharing what I know as well. Thanks for posting this!


  4. That’s exactly the reason I “still” am a teacher- because I can keep on learning! Excellent post on teachers as learners! I appreciate your deep reflections and enthusiasm for teaching profession! Keep it up- we are listening and thinking with you!


  5. When we left the planning session described above, one of my colleagues said she was sure it would appear in a blog post! (It has to be mine, as I haven’t managed to persuade her to start her own blog!). I am sometimes surprised that these little reflective posts will attract comments so quickly as they resonate with other teachers worldwide. Thanks for your comments… the readers will not realise how different they are from each other.

    The first is from someone I know well. She’s not a teacher, but someone who’s always interested in what I do and she really ‘gets’ learning and understands that people learn in different ways.

    The second is from another PYP teacher. We connected through a blogging alliance and quickly found much in common. Maggie’s is one of my favourite blogs and I learn a great deal from her. We interact through our blogs, email and twitter and I feel as if I know her!

    The 3rd is a young teacher who I have recently ‘met’ through twitter. She blogs about learning with the smartboard, and as this is my first year in a room with a smartboard, I hope to learn from her too.

    The last one is someone new to me. She hasn’t commented on my blog before and I don’t know anything about her. So I found it quite thrilling that she says ‘We are listening and thinking with you’.

    AND… We live in 4 diverse countries in different parts of the world!!


  6. I just had this same experience, this weekend. Different situation, but planning a unit (for PD purpose) and refining/reviewing (read: ripping apart) our POI with another coordinator from Italy. It was Saturday and despite a late Friday night, by the time I left the school at 3 pm, I was not really in the mood to stop!
    It is great, this, the learning, the energy and the fact that we can even share this enthusiasm through our blogs.


  7. I have been teaching for over 33 years and have learned a great deal from various sources be it workshops , books or mentors. I feel priveleged to be working with teachers from whom I always learn a great deal. Our discussions, as Edna pointed out, are rich and illuminating and I thoroughly enjoy our morning PD sessions. At the end of each year I always reflect on my practice and feel that there is still so much to learn and to do. I don’t know if I’ll still be teaching in another 33 years but I hope I’m still learning!!!


  8. Sounds like it was a very productive meeting session! It is wonderful that even when you all are tired you commit to a goal and get it accomplished, feeling very energized in the end!


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