I’ll be embarking on my 32nd year of teaching this week. I’ve learned so much over the years, and as a coach I am always eager to share ideas and experiences with others. But the more I know, the more I know I don’t know–and this is humbling.
One goal I have this year is to focus on being a learner. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have ever closed myself off to new learning or felt as though I’ve “arrived”. I just want to approach it with a more humble and open heart this year-to take time to see my schools and my community through my novice eyes to help me notice and grow.
I was listening to a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts (Hidden Brain – “You 2.0 Rebel With a Cause“) and they were talking about research on how experience could be costly. In one study the FDA put out guidance to cardiologists regarding a procedure that was harmful to patients and they found the more experienced the surgeon, the less likely they were to change their behavior, suggesting “when we gain experience we often feel like the expert and we think that we know better even when we hear information or when we see evidence that speaks to the fact that we are wrong. And so having that learning mindset as with any experience is so so important. And of course that’s difficult to do precisely because once you know something you ask yourself why should I go back to becoming a beginner?”
It made me wonder, “How often have I inadvertently ignored information or evidence that might help me grow because I feel like an expert?” After 32 years, is it even possible to think like a beginner? I expect it will be fascinating to try it from time to time. I won’t disregard all of my knowledge and experience, but I can certainly try to create some space in which I walk in the shoes of my students, our novice teachers, and my colleagues to see their realities without feeling the urge to impart some wisdom or support before speaking out.
Even writing this post makes me feel a bit vulnerable, and that’s probably a good first step in empathizing and understanding the learners in our lives. I can recall all too well, how anxious and insecure I was as a new teacher all those years ago. I had a horrible experience. It’s one reason why I wanted to become a coach, to support teachers in the way I needed (and yearned for) support. I would never wish my first year on anyone, and I never wanted to go back to that experience, but revisiting from this safe space might be just what this 32 year veteran needs to keep a fresh perspective and an active growth mindset.
Every year I work with incredible veteran teachers, passionate new teachers and curious kiddos who can teach me so much. I know learning is a two way street if we drive carefully. This year I’m looking forward to traveling down that two-way street of learning to see how much we can all grow on this journey.
More Off My TBR Stack
There are too many books to choose from this summer to share only one here (on my END OF SUMMER BLOG) You can see reviews of my summer reads here at my GOODREADS SUMMER READING 2019
Would love to hear some of your favorites that I can add to my fall TBR!