Imagine you attend an all-day professional development course with a group of your teaching colleagues. You arrive and enter a large conference room with hundreds of other teachers. As the presentation starts, the leader of the conference instructs everyone to sit “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor for each presentation. What would you think? Terrible, right? And what if while doing that, you were asked to learn? Does that sound like a good learning environment for you?
Assuming you answered “no,” ask yourself this as an educator: would kids want to do that, sit in one position all day to learn? If it’s true for us, it’s for them. One of my professors in graduate school once posed this example to explain how we as teaching professionals often miss such a simple guiding principle: if it’s true for us, it’s true for them.
As teachers, we make hundreds of decisions every day. It’s exhausting. While not a catch-all, the true-for-us-true-for-them approach helps me make more purposeful decisions. Whether it’s planning an effective lesson or making a split-second decision while I’m teaching, I ask myself: how would I want to learn? What do I need in order to learn?
Here’s something I know to be true: I learn by trying and failing and then trying again. True for us, true for them. I learn through active, experiential learning rather than passive learning. True for us, true for them. I learn through collaborating with others. True for us, true for them. I learn by moving, thinking out loud, getting personalized feedback…true for us, true for them.
Now, think. What if we all took a few moments each day to reflect on this notion and then put it into practice? It’s possible that if you reflect on your own learning needs, it might provide insight into children’s learning needs.
Join me as I ask questions, seek to find answers, and build connections while I put myself in kids’ shoes.