“Are you working?”, my husband or kids will ask. Whether I’m on vacation or it’s a weeknight, I can often be found listening to a webinar or podcast, working on some PD or conference material, reading a blog post, participating in a Twitter chat, or any number of activities I wouldn’t classify as ‘work’. Their question is very much appreciated since I’ve always been conscious of balancing the many roles in my life: Wife, Mother, Teacher, and what this post is about, Learner. I am careful to be present throughout my sons’ many sporting activities and the family activities that fill our weekends and nights. I put my phone away, get outside with my boys, look at people when they’re talking to me…all that. But when I can, I’m Learning.
I’m reading Tracey Zager’s book, Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had, (which I highly recommend!) for a Book Study I’m co-leading in my district right now. In the Acknowledgments she states,
“Kids, I hope, with time, you’ll more fully understand why I was so busy during the writing of this book and be proud of me. In many ways, I wrote it for you and your teachers.”
When I first read that I paused and considered why it resonated with me. Throughout my 20 years of teaching my husband would ask why ‘work’ was still taking some of my time. “Doesn’t it get easier each year?”, he would ask. That question doesn’t bother me like it used to early in my career because my answer is, “Well, no because I am a Learner and I’m always seeking to find new and better ways of doing things.”. Have some things about teaching become easier over the years? I hope…my content knowledge, my organizational strategies, my lesson planning…sure. But I still come home with the unsolved problems my brain continues to seek answers for…this is my WHY.
If I could drill down to the top 3 things that are my WHY, the problems I am looking to resolve, they are:
- How to help teacher build relationships with students and manage a classroom so that learning can happen all while making it a positive, happy place to be for teachers and students.
- How to help teachers teach elementary math so students enjoy math and don’t struggle in the older grades.
- How to help teachers integrate technology as meaningfully as possible by grounding it with good pedagogy, rather than thinking of it as just as another new thing that will be the silver bullet and everything else that is good goes out the window.
So, I don’t think of this as ‘work’ because it’s part of the fabric of who I am…a constant Learner. And I do this Learning for my kids and their teachers. It’s my WHY.