A few years ago our staff completed a Strengths Finder course and it was revealed that more than 80% of our teachers had the “Learner” profile in their top five strengths. Not a surprise at all, considering the profession we’ve chosen. I imagine that, despite being a small sample size, this group was representative of teachers across the world. We’re learners, through and through. It’s something we’re passionate about and, even if it’s not one of our top five strengths, it’s something we’re good at and enjoy.
Over the last few days I’ve been thinking back to induction week and the challenge I put forth to lead our students, not only by teaching them academics, but also by positively modeling the behaviors we consider important. I wish so badly that there was a way for our entire High School student body to have seen how hard their teachers were working to LEARN on Friday and Saturday. Being learners, we understand the value of opening our minds to new ideas, but how do we model this behavior for our students?
Too many students see learning as a school activity, something they’ll be “done” with once they graduate. It’s one thing to tell our students that being a “lifelong learner” is important but wouldn’t that message be more effective if we could show them that we actually believe it?
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate our “learner” strength to our students is by sharing our learning experiences with them. Whether it’s learning Bahasa Indonesia, studying for an IELTS assessment, taking golf lessons, or learning a new instrument, we’re all learning new things all the time. If one of those doesn’t remind you of something you’re learning, then think no further than what you learned over the last few days in our MYP/DP workshops at school. By discussing what we’re learning with our students we model for them the idea of being a lifelong learner as well as demonstrating our value for education in general.
Recently I’ve become very skilled at saying, “Saya perlu belajar Bahasa Indonesia.” I may not be making much progress but I’m working on it. Students may occasionally laugh at me but they see me trying to learn Bahasa. I constantly let them know how jealous I am of their bi/tri-lingual abilities (many of them have no idea how lucky they are to be learning in such a dynamic place as Sekolah Ciputra). It’s one thing for me to tell them that learning languages is cool but it’s another thing altogether to show them that I really believe what I’m saying by showing them I’m working to learn Bahasa myself. Talking the talk is one thing, but walking the walk shows you mean it.
So, as we come off a wonderful weekend of learning, think about how you can share this experience with your students. Ask them about their 3-day weekend and let them know what you were doing while they were sleeping in and eating ice cream. Let them know how important it is for you, as a teacher, to keep learning by sharing with them. As the year goes on, look for more chances to share your learning with the kids. You’re learning, you know it and I know it…let your students know it too!