— Beth Lamb —
I was out to dinner recently and was stunned to hear other dinner discussions on how their education had finished when they graduated. This belief made me think …. Is there a myth that surrounds teachers and continuing education, professional development, and constant upskilling?
Do parents think we finished learning when we got our degrees, and thus teach from what we knew up to 30 years ago?
This idea is clearly achievable in some professions, but the rate of tech change alone is exponential. So anyone trying to educate a child for an unknown future is obviously in serious trouble if they are not in a state of perpetual learning.
Moss does not grow on a teacher’s brain; the pace of change whips the wheel around far to fast for that.
When newly-minted teachers arrive at their first class, they are just beginning a cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning that will plague their sense of self-worth and competency for the next 30 years.
The first two years of a teacher’s life are spent under direct mentorship and training from an experienced teacher. This is craft-based learning, the feedback is immediate from the students, and trial and error is akin to walking the plank.
Once you register, you then undergo a professional inquiry for appraisal every year while you search for the nirvana to teaching, changing students in changing times for changing measures.
Each year, the school will have foci that you will apply your intellect to melding with your known to step towards the unknown. The sense of constantly striving to new and better is never-ending.
This will compete in the cognitive space for learning in a teacher’s mind with whatever may have been self-selected for a personal growth goal. Now the personal growth goal is not related to knitting or a great golf swing. This will have been co-created with a senior teacher as something you both agree on that will aid you in your search for perfection.
While you have these two balls in the air, a third ball will always be created by the needs of a newly unique student in your class. This student will see a teacher diving to Google and texts to cram knowledge about a diagnosis so complex that the spelling is subject of conjecture.
This makes three balls of learning to swirl in a teacher’s mind, all while navigating the actual job of teaching.
So far so good … However, then the truly inspiring new idea is whispered about in the back corner of a staff room. The ears of the intrepid teacher have a nagging doubt that the answer to the unasked question has not yet been found and swivels to hone in on the source. Thus, a fourth intrinsically motivated learning ball is thrown up into the air of learning.
These learning balls can take many forms. Some teachers even go all out and complete masters and Ph.D. study while others scour conferences colleagues and perform enough Google searches to freeze a small server into submission.
The point is that learning is a journey, and arrival is not a destination, merely the port from which teachers jump onto the next learning path. This love of learning is at the heart of why teachers teach as they immerse themselves into the zone of development every minute of their teaching lives. The job and the constant upskilling that goes with it reaches into a teacher’s personal and family time and is unrelenting.
However, I have not yet met a teacher who does not spark up to learn new things and who is not almost obsessively navel-gazing in introspection as to their ability to be the best for their students.
This is what led me to investigate Flipped Learning as a set of vocabulary I had not yet heard before. I was lurking in the uncomfortable learning space of cognitive dissonance and looking for hooks to hang my thoughts on to climb up the pit of change.
FLGI represented a set of steps I could climb to new strategies and a global set of hands to hold and voices to listen. Within Flipped Learning, I could see a way to marry fabulous old-school pedagogy with the digital-immersion environment in an innovative way to ensure the baby was not being chucked out with the bathwater. If you think that your next step on the constant and vaguely addictive learning wheel might be FLG certifications, then I would encourage you to begin with Level -I and start your next adventure in challenging pedagogies.