Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Learning Transparently

Re-posted from "Language Nerd"


I recently attended the Eastern Google Summit. It is a whole weekend of amazing geeky professional development.

Our keynote speaker was Jeffery Heil @jheil65. He spoke to us about being transparent with our learning. He asked us to think about what our core beliefs are, our "What ifs," and what would look like if our core beliefs informed our daily activities.

So the night after the first session I went home and brainstormed about my "What ifs." My brainstorming revealed that I have many "What ifs." Two of them that stuck out were: "we are all learners" and that "our true strength lies in taking risks, being vulnerable, and sharing our journey/ process with others."

Jeffery shared a quote:

When you learn transparently you become a teacher.
                                                              -George Siemens



I thought a lot about this quote after the first day of the Google Summit. When I was a student did I see my teachers learning transparently? What does this look like? Do I see this around me now in my profession as a teacher? The more I reflected on it the more I realized that I am nervous to share my professional reflections with a global audience. Why? I'm not quite sure. What am I nervous about? Judgement? Making mistakes in a very public way? Yes...but isn't this exactly what we ask of our students? We ask our students to take risks every day. I ask them to do that in a second language--French! Imagine the nervousness that they must be feeling.

This thinking got me wondering....although confidence is essential for anyone in a leadership position--perhaps making their learning visible is equally important?! I wonder if part of our job as leaders in the classroom, or at a system professional development level is to share our learning, our mistakes, and our journeys. I have seen leaders do something out of their comfort zone; however, they don't often voice the fear. I wonder how many of us do this as teachers? I wonder why we don't voice it to our colleagues? What would it look like if we were vulnerable learners?  I don't know if that term exists--but maybe it should --"vulnerable learners" meaning that we take the risk of not being perfect, of being afraid, and voicing the fear, and doing it anyways!!

Another quote that Jeffrey shared was:

Fail often. Fail bravely. Fail publicly.

I'll be honest with you. I have been nervous--of sharing my true thoughts about educational philosophy or education in general, and getting judged somehow. My learning journey is always evolving. What I think today may change years from now. In fact, much of how I teach has changed dramatically--as a result of me taking risks. Where would I be if I had not taken risks, been afraid, and done it anyways? I'm not sure, but I'm grateful for all of the learning that I have done thus far...and the journey goes on.

So now I'm thinking: maybe our students need us to voice our fear. Maybe our students need us to share the gritty part of the learning journey, because they think they're all alone in their fear. Maybe it's really our job to remind them! Maybe their mindsets will never change unless we show them what resilience looks like. Ultimately playing it safe doesn't help you grow, but taking risks is uncomfortable.

Maybe bravery/ courage is another one of the competencies for 21st Century learners. Perhaps it is the most important one. The competency that informs all of the other competencies. Perhaps our 21st Century learners won't have a shot at demonstrating other competencies if they aren't brave first.

Maybe bravery is really where it's at for all learners. Courage will look different on different days for different people. But the transparency that Jeffery spoke about is key.

So...even though I'm nervous to be so open and share my journey publicly, I am going to choose to be afraid and do it anyways! I will be an educational blogger who shares the gritty part of my learning. Some may judge and some might not, but I will be learning and sharing my growth along the way. I will show my students that I'm willing to put "my money where my mouth is". I will take risks just like I ask them to take risks. We will all be uncomfortable learners at times, but we will all be learning.



Theresa Douglas
Core French Teacher
FSL, ELL, Literacy Coach
Ontario
@madamedouglas2







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