How do you model growth in your school? Throughout the year, I’ve had many conversations about being growth-minded. We’ve talked about teachers needing the “uumph” to go out and learn. Being growth minded is really about having a sense of “wonder” regarding your own learning. I go out and learn because I want to. There are no magic stickers, badges, gift certificates or praise from anyone. It’s called intrinsic motivation and love of learning. Isn’t this something that needs to be embedded within us all? How can teachers instill a love of learning in their students if they do not love learning themselves and love it enough to grow…without being asked?
Sadly, not every adult is wired this way. A climate of growth can be established and encouraged but it has to start from the top through OPEN reflective modeling. It is not about forcing teachers with mandates. It is about communicating why we learn, how we do it and what certain acts of learning have done to help us grow. Blogging is key to this idea…as a campus.
Growth From the Top
My favorite edcamps are those where admins are in sessions with teachers discussing and learning. I went to edcamp in Oklahoma and I loved that one could not tell who the superintendents, teachers, directors or principals were from the crowd. It was an even playing field and a phenomenal experience. I came home and talked to several admins in my own state and their perceptions of their role as learners were frightening. The “conferences are for teachers” mentality is not conducive to learning. You can’t model how or why if you are not willing to dive in yourself. Then, to add on the reflective component only further encourages growth.
Teachers do Not Know What They Do Not Know
Typing the above title even felt like a tongue twister. Not everyone is connected. I get that. A great place to start is with connecting teachers to a network. It doesn’t have to be twitter. It can be edmodo, pinterest, Facebook or another community like the Untangling the Web Community. Exposure to “there is more out there” is key. I’ll seek to learn what I do not know once I know that it is there. I love the idea of having a “Notes from around the web” section on our campus tech website and displaying acts of learning from other places. To encourage growth “from the inside”, feature acts of learning from the campus as well.
Let me be clear by saying that growth is not necessarily tied to technology. It is tied to an internal need to learn something new or extend learning. It’s about having the desire to enhance oneself and taking the steps to do it.
1. Expose staff to what learning looks like outside the walls of your school. More importantly, expose them from the standpoint of what students are doing. For some reason, adults tend to think that students can’t. Show them that students can. It is inspiring! Reflect on that and identify needs to get there…as a campus.
2. Encourage all staff to learn something and share it. We are all educators yet for some reason, sharing is limited to those with the title to do so. By title, I mean strategist, specialist or even master teacher. Every person can share new learning. It’s like giving teachers a stage to shine. Don’t limit your staff by titles.
3. Set aside budget for conferences. Tell staff that there is money for them to go to conferences to either learn or present. Communicate timelines. Support them in their desire to grow. Ask for a reflection afterwards detailing their aha learning moment. This can be a blog that is then shared. If you are spending thousands of dollars for a conference, reflection is a minimal expectation.
4. Blogging! Blogging! Blogging! In my blog, I have room to admit imperfections, make plans of adjustment and share growth. All of this is done through the comforts of my words. It is empowering. To encourage growth on my campus, I will share this process. It is not about saying, “YOU MUST BLOG!”. It’s about saying how it has helped me to build who I am…much like twitter. Passion breeds change. It is contagious. When people see that they can, they do.
The lesson here is this…
We are all learners and learners do just that…learn. Along with fall initiatives like reading, writing and improving in math. Make “growth” an initiative and embed it so that it is the norm. You cannot expect growth if you don’t model it. Be a learner.