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Why are teachers the worst students?

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April 14, 2018

You would think that people who spend the majority of their time in front of a class, should be model students, but it is a well-known secret in the education world, that teachers make the worst students. Over the past three years, I have done professional development and training on a number of occasions. And more often than not, I would get home, fall on the couch and say to myself, “Give me my kids any day.”

You won’t allow that in your own class.

At least once a year we will have a staff discussion about the how personal devices distract learners. But what often amazes me is that the staff members who are the most vocal about learners who read their emails/facebook/twitter during the lessons are more often than not the ones who do the same during staff development. And when you confront them about it, they have hundreds of good reasons why they had to check their phone or quickly send off that email. But they fail to see the irony in the fact that they will not accept the same excuses from their learners.

Last year we had an advanced Google Apps training session. Because I know that some of the staff members were still struggling with the basics, this session was optional. But my jaw almost hit the ground when one of the staff members ask me, “If I sign up for this session, and see that it is above my skill level, will it be OK if I get up and leave?”
When I asked her if she is OK with it if learners just get up and leave her class when they find the work too challenging, she looked at me like I was insane. In her mind, it is an entirely different thing.

What new thing did you learn today?

Learning only happen when you are challenged, when you step out of your comfort zone. As teachers, we know that, and we expect our learners to do this every single day. But we shy away from learning something new ourselves. We are not willing to do ourselves what we expect our learners to do every day. I often start my training sessions by asking teachers when last they learned something new, did some research, stepped out of their comfort zone.

When I started training our staff in the use of technology, I thought it only fair that I need to know how they feel. So I signed up for golf lessons. Anybody who knows me knows that I am more comfortable as a supporter than actually doing anything that involves throwing, hitting or catching. It was an eye-opener to be on the other side of the learning process again.

But my way is working

As a maths teacher, I often have a discussion with my kids about new methods. Once they get the hang of a method, they loathe learning a new way. Even though the new method might be quicker and more efficient. I find the same thing with teachers. Over the years they have developed a specific way of doing things, and they are not very keen on learning new ways, even though the new way might result in better learning.

So next time you are attending a conference or sitting in a training session, put away the phone, leave the urgent emails and open your mind to new ideas. And while you are at it, sign up for a class or course or something new. After all, we are in the business of learning.

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