Sunday, July 5, 2009

Learning at Lunch


Who decides when it happens, where it happens, how it happens?

I guess this question has been around for as long as we have. All kinds of assessments and other ways of quantifying and qualifying learning have resulted. We, all of us, educators and non-educators alike, discuss and disagree. What matters?

We must have proof! Proof of learning, to me, is change. When we have learned something, there is some type of change--a change in behavior, a change in vocabulary, ability to articulate, other new abilities, a change in the way we do what we do, even a change in the questions we ask.

So, I thought I would share another story in hopes of clarifying my own views. I, for one, learn through writing and through words.

This is the tale of The Scrumptious Lunch-

Time flies.

Four years have passed since I traded in my California teaching credential for Florida certification. My Florida teaching certificate expires next June. I must provide proof of my professional development activities (and, of course, pay a fee) in order to reinstate the piece of paper. I am nothing if not a seeker of PD, but I made some mistakes along the way in terms of getting the required documentation.

Last summer, I authored an online course for teachers called Tackling Tough Text for Professional Learning Board. It was my first time using moodle and my first time, outside of a school project, creating an online course. I also facilitated the course twice. I figured that was worth a few credits in terms of my ongoing professional development. Teachers can get PD credit for teaching a college course. However, when I requested credit for this experience, I was flatly denied with the following explanation,

"Teachers don't learn from teaching."


I was floored by this offhand dismissal that any teacher knows is utter nonsense. I tried to argue my point via email, but was again flatly denied. It's in the realm of things in life that make no sense- bureaucracy rules, jumping through hoops. I know better than to spend too much time or energy getting upset.

Part 2: In order to get credit for the time spent learning at NECC, I submitted my request beforehand. Along with my written request I had to attach a description of sessions I would attend. I knew that I would be attending an all-day TIE event on Saturday and The Constructivist Celebration on Sunday, so I submitted write-ups describing those activities. The write-ups for each day included a one-hour "scrumptious lunch."

Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. Should I be able to get credit for the lunch hour?

Time spent networking with my colleagues and discussing teaching is, in my humble opinion, valid learning time. The fact that I can enjoy a scrumptious lunch at the same time does not inhibit my learning in the slightest.

I will be submitting my request for PD hours to include lunch.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this post. Even though I no longer live in FL, I like to keep my certificate there active in case we return and it is up for renewal. I teach at an independent school as well and have realized that I will have to jump through similiar hoops. Even though it is a lot of work, I have been really considering on becoming NBCT. Good luck!

Unknown said...

Good stuff!! Sometimes it is in those informal settings that we learn the most. I look forward to learning the outcome of your request.

pcone said...

Good grief! Who decides what constitutes professional development worthy of keeping your certification. Hopefully they are teachers.

Seriously, how can one continue to be a teacher and NOT continually upgrade one's skills and knowledge in some form or another.

Andrea said...

Thanks, all of you, for the comments. It all seems so arbitrary to me! This counts, this doesn't. Whatever! I know that I am in a constant process of learning and changing. I believe that I am deserving of that piece of paper that says, "teacher." It really has little to do with lunch :-)

John Hadley Strange said...

The sad thing is that none of the systems really are interested in whether you learn or what you learn, they just certify that you were "in attendance" at their meeting/course/workshop, etc. THEIR meeting/course/workshop, etc. And yet they all would probably claim that they want to and are fostering "life long learners." You ARE a lifelong learner, but they did not cause that! And apparently they don't care, either.

Keep on learning!

Andrea said...

@John It's true. I find the whole thing to be a necessary/unnecessary evil, kind of like standardized testing. I know that I am not going to single-handedly change these deeply embedded "values" so what I try to do is give them as little energy as possible while focusing most of my attention on what feels real and important to me (such as a scrumptious lunch with interesting people).

I recently learned that, in California, the requirements to renew the teaching credential have changed. They apparently got rid of the classes and PD. All one has to do now is pay the money. I guess they have realized that being a lifelong learner has little to do with that piece of paper. I respect their transparency.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Andrea

Over the matter of PD approval, I'd say your PD authority was out to lunch :-)

Catchya leter