Two Ways to Support a Learning Community
Paul Liabenow September 18th, 2017
As a new school year begins, of course we wish that all children could walk into the classroom each day ready to learn. In an ideal world, our classrooms are populated by children who are well-rested, well-fed and have everything they need to reach their full academic potential.
The reality, as we know, is quite different. Data from Scholastic’s Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education reveals that principals and teachers nationwide believe that equity in education should be a national priority. But the majority of educators say that many of their students face barriers to learning from outside the school environment. These barriers are prevalent across poverty levels, including 66% of educators in low-poverty schools. This means that every morning, our teachers work with children who might be facing family or personal crisis, need mental health services, are living in poverty, or are homeless or hungry. Providing equitable educational opportunities for our students is a complex challenge.
A friend and fellow educator works in post-secondary education. His position involves experiential-service learning. He organizes and coordinates projects with instructors, students and community partners whereby real world problems and settings are connected to university programs. It is fantastic. Connected to this effort he designs and implements professional development. Therefore, when I taught personnel, a graduate masters class for Grand Valley State University last fall, I invited him in as a guest speaker. My favorite question he asked the graduate students was… “How do you know when you have been “DEVELOPED?” We went on to discuss what makes professional development effective, impactful and relevant. He even discussed the most difficult question… Can we even call it professional development if the ideas of the training are never utilized or implemented?