What I’ve Learned about Learning  

February 27, 2015
In my tenure as a Teaching and Learning Coordinator at ESU 10 I have learned many things. The most important thing I have learned is that professionals in the field of education have to be learners. In our line of work we are more learner than teacher and there are things we can do to make sure learning is our top priority.  

Get captivated by a topic or many topics. As a teacher of adults, we should fascinate our participants by rediscovering with them all the things that originally captivated us about the topic. If we can’t get fascinated, we won’t care enough to really learn something. We’ll just go through the motions. How do we get captivated? Often doing something with or for other people helps to motivate us to look more deeply into something, and reading about other people who know a lot about the topic can also captivate us and grow a passion that is contagious to all with whom we work.

Pour ourselves into it. Set aside time on our calendar to read and browse. We have to make time for learning and in our line of work we need to set aside that time or chances are it may not happen.

Play. Learning isn’t work, it’s fun. If we’re learning because we think we have to, not because we’re having fun with it, we will not really stick with it for long, or we’ll resent it and not care about it. Show off our new skills to people, with a smile on our face. Celebrate our co-workers and their talents and personalities. I love what I do and I wake up every workday anxious to come to work. It may be because we have fun!

Collaborate. Some learning is done on our own, but learning with others makes it fun. When we’re learning with our colleagues it motivates us to learn, because we want to do well when we’re collaborating with others.

It may be necessary to change our focus. This was one of the hardest things to get used to when I started working at ESU 10. We will dive into something for a couple weeks or even a couple of hours, and then move on to something else. That’s how our work often goes. We have to wander because of the many different topics we are focused on with our different schools.

But deep learning takes months or years. We can learn a lot about something in 2-4 weeks, but we really become an expert at something only after months and years of doing it. They say that 10,000 hours is necessary for really mastering something. I think as a new employee with ESU 10 this is an important thing to know. We can’t expect to know all about everything in one year, this takes time and effort.

Teach it. There is no better way to cement our knowledge than to teach it to others. That’s great news because that is what we do. It’s acceptable if we don’t really know it that well — as long as we’re honest about that when we’re teaching it to someone. And when we do, we begin to really understand it, because to teach we have to take what we’ve absorbed, reflect upon it, find a way to organize it so that we can communicate it to someone else clearly enough for them to understand it, see their mistakes and help correct them, see where the holes in our knowledge are, and more.

The bottom line is that we are learners first and foremost. That is a huge responsibility but we are also lucky because our board and administrators support us and provide the resources necessary to keep us learning and growing.

-by Susan Evans, Teaching & Learning Coordinator