Are Most Teachers Hypocrites?

During the #isedchat this past Thursday, June 30th, I posted the following in reply to a post by Matt Montagne

Adults want comfort, but expect students to go into discomfort zone, Are we hypocrites?

Since the twitter chat on Thursday, this phrase has been bouncing around in my head.  On many levels, I do believe that as adult mentors in the learning environment called school, that we ask far more of the children than we expect of ourselves. This imbalance does not seem right.

When a student enters kindergarten, they are full of wonder. They are naturally curious an love to learn. Their environments support this with multiple learning centers and the ability, in most cases yet, to exercise free choice and flit between stations supporting their whimsical exploration. Each day, they are excited for the new adventure.

In middle school, students are shifting to more rigorous pursuits, but exploration and choice are still in the forefront of their explorations. From dioramas , to posters, these students often creatively express their learning.

Upon entering most high schools, however, the need for rigor begins to increase and assessments oftentimes mirror this shift. While there is some room for creative expression, in many cases, demonstration of learning is limited to papers and exams.

At each level, however, we are usually asking the students in our care to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone. We encourage them and cajole them to reach new heights. We help them develop strategies when they feel that the work is getting too hard, is not something that they think at the time they are interested in, or they don’t feel that they have the time for. We push them to move beyond excuses.

But as the adult learners, we often live in a comfort zone. I realize that there are additional demands heaped onto us by adulthood: the need to be available as spouses, partners, and friends to others, the need to be caregivers to both our children and parents, the need to support our day to day living. Further straining the load are the demands by the adults support the business of school, reporting, grading, planning, and preparing.

But do we use these as our excuses, obstacles, or resistance that keep us from our own learning? How can we recapture some of that same joy of learning that we all had when we were in kindergarten? When do we make the time for ourselves to be purposeful and pursue our own interests and learning? Do we show our vulnerability to our students so that they can see us model as we deal with our own learning, our failures, and our frustrations?

It seems to be that we have an obligation to our students to participate and document our learning journeys. As Paul Wood stated in this #isedchat, learning is social and about building relationships. We should begin by re-purposing our relationships from being that of a dispenser of information to that of a guide, learning along side of our students. It is my belief that we will all be better for that shift.

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