Teachers as Learners

Behind in my reading as I come up for air from my Book Fair week…

On Sept. 3, David Warlick posted a rant about teachers and their adoption of technology, and his post generated 18 comments to date–obviously a topic that is on a lot of minds, including mine!

I’ve read enough of Warlick’s work to know that he is a huge teacher advocate and that he has the highest respect for people in this noble profession. He’s obviously heard enough excuses though! And I must say that I am with him! We will lose our “in” with students if we don’t figure out a way to teach them in ways that are relevant in their world. I see that worrisome glaze over some of our kids eyes at younger and younger ages. It used to be the high school kids that had to “power down” to come to school–now it’s our elementary aged kids!

I am a librarian in a district that has benefited from wonderful edtech leadership–every classroom teacher in my building, plus the reading specialist and librarian (me) have at least 4 computers in their room, their own starboard, LCD projector, Einstruction kits, access to a computer lab! Professional development for technology is ubiquitous, with Atomic Learning provided for our use, district-based after-school technology classes, campus based technology workshops, and edtech team available to us to model lessons, and more! This is the piece that so many districts leave out, and yet my district has made it almost unavoidable to have professional development opportunities available. And still we have numerous teachers that choose not to learn any more than they are forced to. Campus technology workshops are poorly attended–only the people that get paid to attend are there, even though they’re filled with wonderful, useful ideas! Administrators sometimes come, most times do not.

More than a few times, teachers have stated to me that professional development & technology training should be on school time, not personal time. The overriding perception is that “in the “real” (business) world, people are paid to be trained, but the poor teachers have to do it all on their own time. By and large this is not true, from my observation of friends and family members not in education! There are workshops, trainings, professional journals, conventions, etc. all to be paid for and taken advantage of off-the-clock. That’s what professionals do! That’s what learning and growing people do! Shouldn’t we teachers, of all people, embrace and personify the life-learner model?

The debate on this topic in the edublogosphere has simply been a rant because this is a topic that frustrates all of us so much. There aren’t any answers, I guess. The people that won’t go to professional training on their own time certainly aren’t reading these blogs! It does make me feel less of an oddball to hear of other people who feel the same way I do though! It helps me to focus on the teachers who do want to learn something new. I’ll just hang out with them!

Leave a comment


  1. Thanks for this post, Jamie, and for linking to my blog. I think that you make a valid and useful point, that other professionals do engage in professional development on their own time, and they often take work home with them, etc.But I would also side with your teachers in that one of the problems with teaching, and one of the barriers to education reform, is the notion that what teachers do is teach. That the job is to work with students to help them learn.We both know that there is so much more to being an educator than teaching — especially in a time of rapid change and a dramatically shifting information landscape. It requires research, collaboration, material and strategy development, professional development, information management, planning, teacher field trips, and professional reflection.I think that we need to figure out a way to re-image teachers for the community as a dynamic profession that is more than just teaching the same old thing. It’s understanding and introducing the world to those who will inherit it.

  2. To re-image teaching and teachers! What a concept–ideas and turns of phrase like this are what make your writings so interesting & thought-provoking for your readers! Thanks so much for commenting on my post (rant)!We do need to re-image teachers for the larger community. If we, of all people, are not dynamic, our message and our schools may seem less and less pertinent to students for their “real” lives.

  3. “That’s what professionals do!”Jamie — I agree with you here 100%. As professionals we should be continuously learning MANY things — how to improve our practice, what curriculum or strategies are new in our content areas or grade levels, and how to update our practice so that it is in alignment with changes in the world and in technology. We should seek out new learning without concern for whether it’s on “our” time or “work” time — because that’s what professionals do. I can relate to your frustrations — I have a feeling that you and I are in the same district, so I know what you are describing in terms of the abundance of technology resources available to our teachers. I just keep trying — one teacher at a time — hoping to hit the tipping point with a critical mass of believers 🙂Stephanie

  4. From one teacher who is a learner I would be THRILLED if some training was even offered for me in my county. They do have basic Microsoft training, but any other skills I have acquired have been through painfully long hours reading “Dummies” books and how-to online. I get so frustrated not having a “real” teacher for what I want to learn. I would gladly go to training anytime, anyplace…if I had some to go to!!!


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