Friday, November 14, 2014

Are you a Learner or a Leaner?

I have visited with lots of educators over my almost 20 years in public education. What I have come to find is that there are two types of educators: those who learn and those who lean. From a cultural perspective, leaners annoy learners. Leaners lament for the status quo, and they oppose opportunities for growth. They yearn for yesterday and tear down tomorrow.

Now before anyone gets too offended, let me explain a little further.  Leaning is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does become negative if that's all you do. From time to time, we have to lean on our friends for guidance, experience, or just plain old wisdom. But if we look to people to do our jobs for us, then what good are we to kids?  I'm not just talking about our kids, but the kids of the person that we are taking advantage of? 

Leaning + R = Learning

Learning is leaning with a little R. The R stands for resilience, a commitment to never give up, a desire to know more, a commitment to make this world a better place by making ourselves better first. Educators who are learners are constantly finding new ways of thinking, and new ways of doing. Learners are like leaners in that they rely on their colleagues, but the striking difference is that learners don't mooch off of their colleagues. Learners give as much to their colleagues as they borrow from them. They reciprocate the favor. (another R that is in a Learner) 

A good friend of mine always said, "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean."  Well the same goes for education. If you've got time to lean, you've got time to learn.  Those who habitually lean on others ultimately do not impact their kids to the degree and depth because they have no desire to impact their own life. 

To put this thought into even more perspective, I'll throw you this question. If we really believe in learning for all kids, shouldn't we believe in our own learning first?  After all, if we are not focused on being learners first, then how can we possibly expect our students to make learning their first priority?

What other R's would you add to make a Leaner into a Learner?

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