Monday, May 26, 2014

Who Decides the Value of Learning?

On several occasions recently someone has asked me, in reference to participating in a learning opportunity or facilitating PD outside the district, "So how does this benefit us?" or "What are we getting out of this?"

I've struggled each time to explain my rationale. In my mind I think, "Why wouldn't we participate?" The need to justify these choices seems absurd to me because I am fortunate to be part of an amazing community of learners around Colorado and across the globe. Every day these people share things that I benefit from and in turn, when shared with the teachers and leaders I work with, our district benefits from. I sometimes forget that there are lines between our district and the next because so often with the people in my PLN the lines are blurred or nonexistent. These educators offer their thoughts, advice, ideas, templates, resources, time, and so much more without blinking...and I try to do the same for them. Even within the district I'm fortunate to work with some fantastic people on cross-departmental projects because we all have similar interests, passions, and dedication to the students and teachers we serve - regardless of our titles or which budget our paychecks come from. These people go above and beyond to accomplish their more than full-time workloads in addition to helping with these projects, and it is incredibly rewarding to know that we all want what is best for our community. So when someone asks me to justify participation in something outside the traditional walls of the district or department I work in I feel they are also asking me to put a finite price on learning, on sharing knowledge, and on helping others - both those I serve within my district and those who work in places near and far.

What if instead we assumed that every experience someone felt excited or passionate about participating in would be infinitely valuable? Valuable to them as a person and a learner, valuable to those they work with now and those they haven't met yet. What if we stopped feeling the need to quantify learning and sharing our talents and instead believed that every experience, whether positive or negative, would provide value?

I am challenging myself, and would ask the same of you, to model the value in openly participating in and sharing the learning and talents we each have. Pass on that thought, idea, or lesson learned so those around you can come along for the ride. If we each shared just 1 idea or reflection every day imagine how that learning could multiply and spread to others. If we continue to push the boundaries and not let invisible walls stop us from connecting and sharing across districts, states, and countries just think of how much faster we could achieve our goals and the dreams we have for students and teachers. 

So what will you share today?