As educators we are in the business of learning. So what is learning? Can you define it? It sounds easy, right? I thought so until I tried it. Take a minute to think about what learning means to you. If someone asked you to write down a definition, how would you define learning?
Last month I led grade-level teams of teachers through the process of defining learning at my school, and the activity provoked very meaningful conversations. We all had different definitions in our head about what learning means. I had each individual write down their definition. Then we paired up to look for commonalities in our definitions. After we shared commonalities we worked together to create a common definition. Working together to create this common definition created some of the most meaningful conversations I have heard from colleagues. Is learning…Creative? Life-long? A process? How does learning impact aspects of one’s being (outside of the achievement of acquiring knowledge)?
The conversation went on and on until agreement was achieved. The result was two-fold. First, we had the obvious result which was a definition of what learning was at our school. We could use this definition as common language in moving forward this school year, and we had something we could share with parents when discussing learning at our school. The second result was much deeper than that. We started a new conversation with each other that reached beyond the typical conversation about which strategies we are going to teach in the next unit. We started a conversation that made us think beyond the everyday aspects of teaching. We learned how to dig in a little deeper, how to push our own thinking, how to hold each other accountable for a higher level of talk. So, how do you define learning?
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