Learning with Value

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by throgers

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by throgers

I know I learn better when I figure things out for myself.  I could easily copy a template from someone, or have them set up my blog. I could ask someone to develop HTML for me so I can embed the things I want.  Truth is, I value these things so I want to figure it out for myself, then I know I will “get it”.

It’s all about what I value. I’m a fairly practical person, I like getting hands on and my mother always expected my sister and I to partake in all activities that my brother did, not based on gender.  I mow my lawns (though I despise it), I’ve renovated bathrooms, laid floors both tiled and timber, plaster boarded walls, hung doors, knocked down structures, paved and done many other physical jobs. I am motivated by the challenge, trying something new and of course seeing the end result.

Now tell me anything about a car, and you lose me. I am extremely capable of changing a tyre, oil, coolant etc. but never have I learnt to do any of these tasks and to tell you the truth, I have no intention of learning. These tasks do not interest me one little bit. I could watch someone show me a dozen times and I still don’t think it would sink in, because I have no wish to develop these skills at all!

This brings me to student learning and staff PD. If we are asking students and staff to learn skills they see no purpose in, how do we expect them to engage and persevere when it gets hard? We can develop grit in our students and it may already exist in staff, but if we are asking them to learn or engage in something they never intend to use, aren’t we just wasting our time?

So this is my challenge, just as I work hard at meeting the needs of my students and finding ways to connect their learning to make it meaningful.  I want to ensure that I provide opportunities for staff to see the “why” we need to develop certain skills and allow them to take ownership by choosing their own ways of improving their classroom practice.

I am completely guilty of having different expectations of adult learners than I do for my students.  I would never expect my students to sit through a presentation with me standing and talking for 20, 30, even 40 minutes! Why is it that I am surprised when adults zone out, check their phones, emails or chat to the person next to them? I differentiate my classroom, I lead a differentiation project, yet I’ve at times treated staff like they chose to come hear me speak, when in actual fact they were forced to!


  1. mrlamshed

    I completely agree with you. I think that most school staff meeting prove your point that we don’t always practice what we preach when it comes to staff learning. Being given long articles to read, being ‘talked at’ for hours on end and ‘death by PowerPoint’ are still common practices used at most of the PD that we attend as a whole staff group. It’s not good enough. The best PD is that that I find myself. Learning that I feel meets my need. Learning that I can see relevance in.

    • rhonimcfarlane

      Hey Jarrod! Relevance is definitely key. Sometimes there does need to be a whole school development on an idea, practice or process just like in the classroom. I just think we need to meet our staff at their readiness. We have experts among us for different facets, why should they be made to sit through the 1.01 version? Just as we endeavour to meet our kids at their readiness, we need to meet the staff at theirs.

  2. Jarrod Lamshed

    I absolutely agree there needs to be whole school focus. We just need to get better at meeting those needs and at our delivery. PD is MUCH better if people can manage to stay awake 🙂

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