Learn something new everyday. That is how the old adage goes. But how many of us are actually learning something new each day? Learning something new is uncomfortable. It is a process that cannot be isolated to one day. How many of us are actually learning new things, versus evolving and reinforcing what we already have learned?
As educators, we teach and facilitate learning each day. We understand the processes by which people learn. We understand the importance of introducing new material and concepts. We provide the strategies, feedback and encouragement to promote learning. We gradually release responsibility for students to take ownership of their learning. We even attend regular PD to learn new concepts, ideas, and more. Education is our passion. Our career. We are always learning and adding more to our learning frameworks. Forever thinking about our students and how to help them succeed.
Perhaps our teaching processes become so automatic that we feel like we have the learning process down-pat. However, sometimes I have to stop and think about whether I myself am also engaging in the kind of thinking that we are asking students to do in the 21st century.
Do I truly understand what active learning is, if I have not actively learned something brand new in a long time?
What does it mean to learn something new?
I don’t mean an iteration of the same learning and teaching we have always done. I mean something completely new. Perhaps something we have no background for. No context.
This is the point where so many of our learners are at when they come into our classrooms and learning environments. They are brand new to what is being taught, with no background knowledge, contexts, or strong frameworks to insert new knowledge.
There is danger when we forget what the learning process feels like for new ideas and information.
When we engage in Professional Development – much needed and so important- and we may in fact be learning new things. However, this can be easier than learning something brand new because we already have strong frameworks of learning build from our years as a student and educator.
Learning that fits into existing frameworks can make us stronger and grow. However, it can also make us forget what it is like to be brand new to a topic, idea or subject. We can forget about the power of talk, and forget about the power of visuals and organizers. We can forget that there are multiple points of view on many different topics and ideas. We can forget how lost and lonely it can feel when are forced to struggle with something we have never done before.
Remember what it is really like for our students to learn something completely new. What having a Growth Mindset really feels like, and looks like. What it means to learn something brand new, and at the same time learn how to integrate into new technologies.
So go out and learn something new today!