Refusing to Learn

This week, I continued my search for poor teaching habits and tools. I came across a blog that gave examples of things we are doing that are stifling teachers. The very example fit pretty well with our study of personal learning this week. It was about how teachers don’t try to learn from their colleagues.

The best way to learn and implement new teaching techniques is to observe and collaborate with your fellow teachers. This could be your colleagues that teach in the same school building, school district, or even someone that you follow on social media. What matters is that you try to learn.

One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed throughout my school career is that teachers are stuck in their ways. They do not want anyone telling them that they’re teaching methods are outdated. They don’t want to take anyone’s advice or heaven forbid admit they could be in the wrong. The worst offenders are the older teachers. Young teachers bring in new insight and methods that a veteran teacher could learn from. Instead, young teachers’ creativity and new methods are put down by older teachers. Young teachers, being disheartened, take on the old, outdated methods of teaching and the cycle continues. What should be happening is that the old teachers should be learning from the new teachers and the new teachers should be collaborating with each other.

Watching the occasional video doesn’t cover it either. There is so much more to learning than watching a few minutes of a video or going to the teacher inservices. Teachers need to branch out and learn from each other within their schools and from teachers in their personal learning network. Teachers should also be figuring out how to use new technology in their schools to create these networks.

When teachers use outdated methods and refuse to change their ways, it is not just them that suffer. The students are the ones who come up short because their teachers are too stubborn or lazy to put in the effort to learn and grow. The good teachers also suffer because they don’t have a whole lot of options for branching out within their own school, so they have to turn to a PLN on Twitter or to learning new methods from a blog. They can’t just run down the hall and sit in on another teacher’s class to observe their teaching techniques. All in all, a blatant refusal to collaborate and learn from your colleagues causes everyone to suffer.

Photo CC: Ken Whytock

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12 thoughts on “Refusing to Learn

  1. I’m loving this series of “What NOT to Do”! I absolutely agree — one of the worst things that teachers (and other professions) can do is become stuck in their ways and refuse to budge. Especially in fields where technology and teaching techniques are near-constantly evolving. It’s sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have to figure out everything for ourselves that we forget to collaborate (although with social media that should be more difficult). “No man is an island,” after all. Working together is how many people do their best work, even in solitary professions.

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  2. I’ll have to check out the what not to do lists. I was unaware of their existence and they sound like they’re must-see/read-level stuff. I definitely think teachers should learn from each other and that there are absolutely some who refuse to see the creative and goodness in new methods and newer teachers. At the same time I’ve seen young teachers refuse to learn from veterans and it was equally a shame. There is wisdom in the old and the young. Like you said collaboration is key.

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  3. I love that you are looking into the “what not to-do’s ” of teaching! As future teachers, we are always learning about techniques and strategies we should be use, but it’s good to know what not to do, as well! I think you are right about how important it is to collaborate and watch other teachers. Communicating and maybe even asking for help can lead to the best ideas. Teaching is not something that should stay the same from year to year!

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  4. Emily I so very strongly agree with what you said in your post. Teachers are stuck in their ways like superglue. Technology is moving in on our traditional territory and students aren’t as focused on ancient methods anymore. For me this transition started as early as late elementary school. We need to incorporate project based learning into our classrooms and sometimes technology is the way to go. Great post!

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