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Teachers are Learners

Whenever anyone asks me what I do, the reply has always been, with alacrity, “I'm a teacher!” Am I 'Teaching?' Not in the classroom, school sense, no. Mostly, I'm learning. And I love it. When it was suggested I blog about change I reacted as any 20th century learner – how do I do that? Can I do that? I enjoy reading other educators blogs – they are another powerful learning platform I’ve recently discovered. 

As I move forward I have to believe the universe is turning as it should, and I am doing all I can to make sure of the end goal. For me that is happiness, mine, my loved ones. When happiness is in question – change is afoot. Unless you’re prepared for perpetual unhappiness something must change. How big the change agent is, depends on the individual. My current ‘situational learning’ came about through change.

As a teacher Kath Murdoch’s teaching and reading underpinned my inquiry practice. FISH! A philosophy I embrace and share. Guy Claxton's 6 Pillars of Learning, Murray Gadd's writing research, the writing book, the habits of mind, modern/co-operative learning environments, Thinking tools, are all aspects of my teaching belief, what I value in teaching practice, how I still look atmyself as a teacher and a learner. Teaching and Learning, are synonymous with each other, I believe. I think if you are not open to ‘being the learner’ how can you engage in a learning environment of today? How can you possibly connect with the learners you’re charged with the care of? So, as an engaged learner, I am a better teacher for the learning I am privileged to be a part of.

So, who am I?
I'm Kate.
Right now I'm a learner!

Earlier this year I became 25% of Learning Network NZ (LNNZ), and my learning curve went viral. I have - learnt html, website design, graphic design (OK this is still early on in the peace - it's complicated!), become a Facebooker (no, I wasn't on FB before joining LNNZ), got a Twitter handle @learningnz (oh my gosh I love the learning to be had via this platform), jumped into POND, found that I'm not 10 feet tall and bullet proof, that everyone’s a critic and marketing might not be my forte, and I have been reminded how valuable a good team is and how much it can make a difference - astoundingly so.

Learning Network is the sum of 4! It is a working environment sometimes the antithesis of a school one. There are similarities: a culture exists, it’s perpetually constant and there is genuine passion for education and educators.

Teachers are self driven learners. Well I am, if I’m inspired. I always have a professional text on the bedside table (right now ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook! – How to tell your story in a noisy social world’ by Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s a New York Times bestseller. I like the idea of telling a compelling story via social media) or a stack to get through on my desk. Now I'm surrounded by the best, most inspiring resources available. LNNZ provides education resources. For this to be great we have Dorne:
Dorne - wonder women of two roles: resources and accounts. If we don't have a resource you're looking for she'll tell you why or get it in for you. She'll give advice on what you're sourcing based on feedback and discourse. She's funny, imaginative and is my friend through the glass, referred to as the fishbowl due to our sustainably designed office space. Her experience and knowledge as the second longest LNNZ team member has meant an easy transition for me into the team. Always there to help work things out – from SAP to embedding youtube clips onto website. What to do, how to do it, go-to girl! I hope she thinks I am a quick enough learner.

Sometimes the energy, urgency, quantity gets away on teachers. I can get excitable. A friend sent me this once:

I could only assume it referred to me. And suppose it’s true. Some days it’s nice to know there’s always someone who can be relied upon. Someone who is ‘grounding’. I value people I know who can do this. Who are perfects. We have:

Diana - nestled at the front desk, answers the phone, takes all enrolments and invoices, checks all my work (omg she's good at that), organises our calendar, ensures needs are met, entertains and makes the best coffee shy of the cafe bought kind. 

There's me, of course, Kate - the learner. Responsible for events. I have refered to myself as "teacher by trade, marketer by accident", instigator, creator, deliverer, communicator, researcher, of all things eventsy. As a learner I am privileged to have been present for some of the greatest learning on offer. From New Zealand - Nathan Mikaere-Wallis, Mark Osborne, Andrew Cowie, Murray Gadd, Sheena Cameron and Louise Dempsey to name a few. And from across the planet - James Nottingham, Tony Ryan, Guy Claxton, Kath Murdoch, next year, Carol Dweck! I mean, for me, this is a teacher’s heaven? I have even had dinner with them ...The conversations...  

I always thought of myself as a risk taker. I know I can, I’m not sure how good I am at it. So far, successful. I enjoy being challenged and engaging in meaningful discourse. I enjoy the creativity of ideas morphing into something tangible and exciting.

In a very insufficient nut shell that is the Learning Network mindset: bringing inspiration to NZ educators. With that in mind the final team member is of course:

Faye - the face, the driver, the champion, the force. Almost here from inception Faye is the most inspiring, excitable, fun, fast-paced, loyal, and generous, determined to provide quality for NZ leaders and educators with the biggest heart I’ve ever come across. The depth of knowledge and experiences leaves me in awe.

In the 6 months I’ve been here, this is what I find:

We provide NZ teachers with the most inspiring professional learning we, as the sum of 4, can put together. That’s inspiring. What does success look like? That’s an incredible journey.

We Love connecting with educators, with presenters, me with my PLN (although I admit I am different than those immersed at the chalk-face), providers, sponsors, leaders and inspirers.

Our ethos: the wow factor - fun, inspirational professional learning that is enduring. If we don't have it – we’ll want it - call. Talk.

And so, working alongside a small team I hear messages such as;

·         ‘teaching from the front is stupid’
·         ‘technology is NOT an add-on’
·         ‘everyone needs loads of opportunities to fail. Teach how to fail with grace’
·         ‘education is ideology’
·         ‘Everyday we sacrifice, we must give ourselves time for renewal. What is your regular source of calm?’ Right now mine is space, where no-one wants anything J
·         ‘become someone who is an “unstucker!”’

Change is scary and easy to put off. But alternatives need looking at too. And not being happy doesn't seem much of an alternative to me.

I'm happy being here. I love our ethos and what we strive for. It's tough and it's busy, but it's inspirational and it’s rewarding.

I’m learning, I’ve rediscovered FISH!, 

the team supporting me provides commitment and resilience and that makes me better at what I am – and what I am is – “a teacher”.