Practice What You Teach

brainstorm.jpg

As an educator, every time you enter the classroom you are fostering student learning. In a previous post, Carol Harper noted that the spotlight is on educators at all times; students are watching as you navigate challenges, observing everything you do or say. We are often told to think of students first and ourselves second. Education requires humility, patience, and commitment to teaching young people, but often times it feels like we don’t have the time to even think about these requirements. Growing up, I always heard the phrase, “practice what you preach,” but I think an even better phrase to consider is to “practice what you teach.”

As teachers, we are often self-sacrificing, choosing to spend our time and energy helping others rather than ourselves. Think about this: Ohio’s Standards for the Teaching Profession have been in place for quite a few years now, much longer than Ohio’s New Learning Standards for students. Both sets of standards play a role in Ohio’s accountability system, yet one set of standards takes precedence. It’s not hard to figure out why; as teachers we focus on the needs of students and think of ourselves second. But, in the long run, a lack of focus on our own learning will actually diminish our abilities to help our students. We’ve been breathing life into student learning, while depriving ourselves of our own learning.

As a profession, we need to make teacher learning a priority. We need to breathe life into our own learning and focus on our own needs, in order to be the educators our students deserve. Do you know what standard seven of Ohio’s Standards for the Teaching Profession says? “Teachers assume responsibility for professional growth, performance and involvement as an individual and as a member of a learning community.”  Are we taking responsibility for our professional learning?

There are many ways to take ownership of your professional learning. FIP Your School Ohio offers free online learning modules, facilitation guides for professional learning communities, videos, self-assessments, and more. These can all be used to meet the requirements of the Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP), either working on your own or with a team of colleagues (find sample forms and other resources here). Most importantly, Ohio’s IPDP process allows for Equivalent Other Opportunities (EOV). In other words, you can create your own learning plan, aligned to your own professional goals, and submit the plan for approval by your Local Professional Development Committee (LPDC). In order to simplify the process, FIP Your School has posted a form to help you create your EOV plan.  

So, no more excuses. It’s time to practice what we teach. While we continue to challenge students to take ownership of their learning, it’s time for us to do the same. Taking ownership of your learning is going to affect the many ways that your students learn from you; and they are worth every ounce of energy that it takes.