Are you like me? It seems that no matter what I’m doing, I always seem to connect things back to education. I guess I know that teaching and learning is a vocation for me, not just a job.
So I was in Spin class this morning and couldn’t stop thinking about this class as an analogy for learning. First of all, I only started spinning about 8 months ago because a friend of mine who was a Spin Instructor told me it was awesome; I had written it off previously as something I didn’t enjoy or couldn’t master. In the spirit of trying things outside of my comfort zone, I picked it up again and now it’s my absolute favourite class.
But I digress.
There are lots of different instructors who each have their own strengths and styles and who motivate us in different ways. Kelly, the owner of the gym, encourages us to modify the speed & resistance to suit our own needs; actually all of the instructors say that. She tells us that success and failure is just a state of mind in this class and that the goal is to do our personal best. I LOVE this! It gives me the freedom to not compare myself to the person spinning beside me (though admittedly I always sneak a peak to see what others beside me are doing). Each week I push myself to go a little farther & to increase my resistance so I am working harder. When I leave the gym, it is with a sense of elation and accomplishment: success!
This morning, another instructor told us the same thing–modify according to where you are at. But then, she walked around and checked everyone’s speed. I guess this was meant to encourage us to go faster & push harder, but what it did to me, was make me cover my speedometer with my towel and pray she wouldn’t say anything to me or check my progress.
And if you haven’t already made the connection, I am thinking about what this looks like for..
- teachers leading learning in classrooms,
- administrators leading learning in a school, and
- people like me who are leading professional learning at the District level.
It made me think about John Hattie’s idea of a year’s worth of growth and my evolving understanding of what that means, and what George Couros says in The Innovator’s Mindset about helping people move from their Point A to their Point B.
Are we measuring one learner’s performance against another or are we helping learners to recognize their strengths ?
Are we allowing adequate time or opportunity for them to reflect on where they need to go with our guidance, descriptive feedback, and encouragement?
Are we saying one thing but then our actions indicate differently?
Are we celebrating what success looks like in incremental steps, or do we hold an unattainable standard that some learners may never even try to reach for because it seems too impossible to do so?
How do we help learners to know what their “personal best” looks like and help them become accountable to themselves when they don’t get there?
Does this look the same whether we are talking about young learners in a classroom or adult learners engaging in professional development?
I will never go as far or as fast as the gal who spins beside me on Saturday mornings. We have different body types and fitness levels. I’m ok with that. But I can tell you that compared to 8 months ago, I am rockin’ it!