Year-End Observations of a Teacher-Learner


I’ve been teaching for a number of years, but this year was different. This year I spent almost as many hours learning as I did teaching. It was indeed a busy year… but my best yet. When I went to the Powerful Learning Practice kick-off in Dallas back in September, I was blown away by all that was “out there” that I wasn’t taking advantage of in my classroom. The temptation to jump in with both feet was huge! PLP encouraged us to spend the year learning. What a waste it seemed, to focus solely on myself and my learning for a whole year when I could make an impact in my classroom NOW!

But there was plenty to learn, and an entire PLN to develop… In addition, we got a new division head at school, and I found there was even more to learn – new teaching methods, new voices in education… My head was spinning, and suddenly I wished change wasn’t coming so hard and fast.

The year flew by, and although I resented being pushed in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I was pushing myself. I became hungry for learning. I was reading articles and blogs every night, and playing with new programs to see what would be most useful for me in the classroom. Recently I was featured as a guest blogger on PLP’s Voices From the Learning Revolution, and hope to keep writing for them. I wanted to impress our PLP leaders, my bosses, and more importantly, I wanted to help bring visible change to our faculty and my students. I ran myself fairly ragged for the better part of the year.
Last week our team went back to Dallas for our PLP culminating event. What a rush! The trip was a whirlwind, but it was incredible to be back with our cohort as we learned, shared stories, and encouraged one another.

Things are going to continue to be hectic… As a result of my work this year, I decided to start my Master’s program this summer through The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. They offer graduate credit for the PLP program, and will apply those credits toward my Master of Science in Education – Curriculum & Instruction degree. The emphasis is “Teaching 2.0” – with a focus on the shift in education, new pedagogy, and technology integration. Classes start next month.

In April I wrote a blog on motivation. Almost two months later, I’m still hung up on it… As the final days tick by and I reflect on the year, that important question emerges: What was it that made me push myself so hard? What motivated me to take on extra responsibilities, and to go beyond the requirements of the PLP program? Surely it was more than my stereotypical “first-born” nature…

Here are my top 3 motivators:

1. Passion. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are some of the most passionate people I have ever met. Their enthusiasm and tireless efforts to improve education are nothing short of inspiring.
2. Support/Encouragement. Having the support of my PLP team and administration gave me the boost to keep going when things got rough. The voices from my PLN also kept me on track.
3. Incentive. Watching my blog readership grow, and being recognized by PLP and my school as a leader was incredibly motivational (this is that essential “positive feedback” piece).

Teacher enthusiasm is definitely contagious. It’s one of the best ways to get students excited and keep them engaged. Students need to feel they are supported and need to hear our praise. Then they need to get something back for their efforts. What should that be??

How do we push them, get them excited, and most importantly, leave them hungry for more?

I’d love to hear from you – What are your biggest motivators as a learner? How do you inspire students to continue learning beyond the classroom? Do you feel the things that motivate us as adults are also the things that motivate youth?

2 thoughts on “Year-End Observations of a Teacher-Learner

  1. Patti,
    I love your enthusiasm, people like you are the ones that motivates me to continue learning new things, and of course when my students…

  2. Oops I was not done
    When my students are excited to come to my class because we are doing something new or something different.

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