Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Pace for Learning

Professional learning as a group is a challenge for every school. Trying to appease a variety of learners and support their learning journey is a delicate balance. It's really a 'no-win' situation as not everyone is invested the same way; and just like the students in our classroom, each has a different preference of learning.

Today, I was a part of a discussion about this topic - how do we support the adult learners in the building so they can grow as professionals? The planning group's main concern was about the current pace of learning and the culture of learning in the school. It struck me at how similar this discussion was like the discussion we have about our students in our classrooms.

We often look at our classrooms and plan according to curriculum. We know we have to fit in 'X' units of study in 'X' number of days. The pressure we put on ourselves as teachers to "finish the course" is countered by the pressure we put on ourselves to "ensure all students learn". This delicate balance is no different than what all school's deal with as part of their own professional learning.

We hope to achieve learning goals as a staff by the end of each semester, or by the end of each year. Many would like to go 'slow' while others need to 'speed up'. We do need to ensure that all learn, and are supported with the appropriate resources and strategies to ensure understanding & proficiency. And if we race through the material then we can almost certainly ensure that learning will be haphazard at best. Going slow is therefore necessary.

However, when it comes to certain learning goals there is no option however. Students are the ones directly impacted by our professional learning, and if we slow down too much then we are not living up to the expectations of our students. I'm not saying we need to put the pedal to the medal, but I think we always need to ensure our foot is at least on the pedal.

I guess what I'm left with is just a question. When do we need to 'go'? And when do we need to 'go slow'? Either way, however, we still need to be going.

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