Leading Adult Learning – 6 Reflections!

There have been many days as an educator when I’ve lamented the culture of compliance we foster in schools.  Yes, we aspire towards a culture of curiosity and creativity but, in reality, we also perpetuate a culture of

imagescompliance with our learners.   Is it inevitable?  If there is an inevitability about such a culture with students, is the same to be said for teachers as learners?  Do we build a system in which the default for adult learners is compliance?  If we want kids to become enquirers and creative problem solvers, and independent learners, shouldn’t the same be true for teachers?  In reality if teachers aren’t learning, then students aren’t learning.

Ken Robinson says that “curiosity is the engine of achievement”.  Therefore, if we foster curiosity, motivation, and independent thinking, achievement will follow.  This is true for students and adults.

How do we get the best learning out of the adults in our schools?

A few ideas to remember as a leader and facilitator of adult learning in schools include:

  1. Serve as a role model for learning.  Demonstrating enthusiasm and role modeling as a learner is critical.  Sharing articles, insights, and generating excitement around learning is contagious.  Passionate and committed learners become learning leaders and role models for others!
  2. Accept that the continuum for adult learning is variable. Adults, as kids, are in various stages of development.  Adults early in their professional lives may bring different skills and approaches to learning as opposed to a highly experienced professional.  Differentiating opportunities and accepting the wide range of differences is important.  Avoiding judgments is vital.  We all learn at different rates and with different comfort levels.
  3. Recognize that some days (weeks, months) are better than others for learning.  Teaching is stressful and some parts of a school year are better than others.  The stress of responsibilities for grading, report writing, parent conference preparation, unit planning, holiday concerts, etc.  There are certain dead zones when focused adult learning just isn’t really possible! But, there are other Continue reading

A Faculty and A Garden!

My faculty is a vegetable patch.  A garden patch of plants with an array of personalities and skills with different needs, styles, strengths, offerings, and flavors that always need tending.  My faculty, my vegetable patch, always needs tending.  It’s hard work – you reap what you sow.    I’ve gardened in my past life as a teacher in rural Vermont – preparing, planting, tending, and harvesting.  It’s hard work. You reap what you sow is a truism for gardening and “principaling”.

Preparing garden beds in the Spring was always a challenge.  I remember breaking out the roto-tiller and turning over the soil.  If you started too early, the soil was too wet and muddy.  The tiller would inevitably get stuck in the wettest corner of the garden.  Gathering pick-up loads of manure to mix in the soil was always essential.   Once the soil was prepared and beds for planting were made, it was time to plant and watch the personalities take shape!

As with any faculty I’ve got a slew of personalities and faculty with wide ranging experiences, background, styles and needs.   They mimic the classic vegetables in my Vermont gardens.

Tomatoes off the vine were always a huge treat.  But, they were a little trickier to grow.  They easily suffered early damage from frost if not protected.  They needed careful tending in the early days.   Late frosts in early June could damage tomato plants so one needed to cover them up at night with buckets.  Some faculty need a bit of protection early in their years but, with the right conditions, can produce succulent tomatoes by mid-July. Continue reading