This past week I had the honor of attending the Council for Exceptional Children 2016 International Convention in St. Louis. When I explained to my students earlier in the week that I would be absent, I got many questions about where I would be and why was I going. I explained to them that, amazingly, teachers need to learn too, and that this convention was a chance for me to learn all about how to be a great teacher. Some didn’t believe me, but after awhile, I could tell that they were excited and proud that I was a learner just like them.
As a teacher, I spend countless hours telling and teaching my students about the importance of being an engaged and active learner; that it is important to love learning and to never quit even when it might get tough. And I believe that, at times, students look at me and think, “What do you know? You don’t have to do this!” They don’t view us as being learners ourselves. This is most likely because they don’t see us in situations where we, as adults, are the learners. Therefore, I think it is vitally important that children see us in the role of the learner. Adults need to talk about and show what they are learning and the triumphs, and sometimes, failures that all learners go through, despite their age.
When I returned to my classroom today and greeted all of my students, I had quite a few ask me what I had learned about while I was gone. They wanted to know if it was hard, boring and/or fun. I told them that I had learned all about different ways to teach writing and how to be a good co-teacher. I explained that it wasn’t easy, but in the end, it was all worth it. And I am very excited because now I know I am a better teacher. One second grade student stepped up and said, “You are just like me Mrs. Frontera. I had a hard time doing my subtracting problems while you were gone. It wasn’t fun or easy. But it was all worth it to me too, because now I know how to do it just like you know now how to be a better teacher!” It truly was a testament to the value of showing our children and students the benefits of being someone who is committed to and loves to learn.