Define learning. Define success. It’s messy.

blog 4Let’s continue our beliefs conversation… what do we believe is the definition of learning.  After a very clear understanding has been established that people are our most valued resources over programs comes the importance of defining what we do in school.  As elementary as this sounds, this is one of those crucial conversations that if left out will result in people moving in different directions and meaningless initiatives that lead to purposeless change or even worse yet complacency.  For us at Brookside, it started as a conversation about our mission.  Through these conversations, it was discovered that we did not all agree on our purpose nor did we agree on what learning looks like on our campus.  In my experience, we can often mistake teaching for learning.  Unfortunately, just because we taught it doesn’t mean our students learned it.  This was a messy, personal, and controversial topic – who would have thought?  As I reflect now, I believe it was because we had lost real sight of our purpose as educators on our campus.  We focused on the teaching and the teacher in all that we did- the lesson planning, the school operations, the kinds of clubs and organizations offered, and in how we communicated.   Because we were out of focus, we failed to remember whom we really serve- our students.   The challenge next was to ask ourselves, “Are we doing what is best for our learners or what makes us comfortable?”  Uh oh- this means we had to address comfort zones, fear, complacency, accountability, and control. As we began to focus more on WHO we taught first then we were more prepared to talk about HOW to best teach our WHO.  This resulted in each department publishing agreed upon best instructional practices that we vowed to employ from that point forward.  As new pedagogical research is shared and as students’ needs demand something different, we revisit our published practices.  The idea is that we agree on what is high yield and what is not based on ongoing response to our learners.  We commit to letting go of practices that makes us comfortable and agree to allow our learners to lead our instructional decisions.  So we find ourselves back at valuing people (our students) over pre-packaged plans.  You see…  if we as leaders value our people (educators) they will then feel compelled to value their people (students).  One thing I left out that emerged as a big monster through these messy yet meaningful conversations was… CONTROL.  COMPLIANCE. RULES.  So…  up next comes the belief system we had to delve deeper into… a compliant community vs. a learning community.

2 thoughts on “Define learning. Define success. It’s messy.”

  1. “just because we taught it doesn’t mean our students learned it” What a powerful comment.

    When I was in high school I made extra money painting. So many times the old color would bleed through. I would have to paint again – and eventually I found I had to change the quality of the paint to assure it covered the wall spot. If the paint bleeds through, then I didn’t do the job the right way – it is not the walls fault, I needed to try something else.

    Education is the same way. There was a lot of reflection and growth that had to happen before I realized it was me – not the students that needed to change. They became my focus, the content would always be there. Students come first.

    I love being part of your learning community!

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    1. I love that analogy Doris. So very true. I have recently challenged myself to use the word progress or improvement as opposed to change so as to cause less fear. Reflection time and honest feedback are supports every educator deserves and needs. I love having you on our team Doris. You inspire thinking!

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