I read it again, “Lead Learner”. It’s a phrase I rather not hear. These titles we inherit and/or give ourselves are very powerful. Are they even necessary? I have as much of a problem with “lead learner” as I do with “best practices”. Wasn’t there a time when “round robin reading” was considered a “best practice”? Ugh…cringing as I write that!!
Titles, to me, are irrelevant. The way you conduct yourself is key; you could be the janitor or the lunch lady and still be an amazing lead learner for all students, teachers, admin. “Lead Learners”, or just Learners in my book, must assist students, teachers, & admin. understand that there are only so many paths we can follow. They must convey and maintain the integrity of learning. Share with us what you’ve learned! Learners should be there to guide and support learning, help provide structure when needed, but step away when others are making progress. They need to model & nurture for it to be a way of life. These learners, should walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
I have worked with teachers/admin that enjoy using these titles & buzz words but many truly don’t understand what they are. I’ll never forget a colleague who said to me, “Lets just slap a diorama onto the unit & we’ll have project based learning!” So, the bigger point I think is that education as a whole needs to look carefully at its language. As learners we need to research and understand what it is we are seeking. What’s our focus and purpose for utilizing this? How do my students learn? This is most important. Not a title, not a buzz word. Sharing, collaborating and reflecting on our trials is absolutely imperative.
Doug Reeves, founder of the Leadership & Learning Center, once stated that “expertise is not developed based upon the mystical ability of professionals to get it right the first time. Rather, it is based upon the willingness to try techniques, get feedback that is honest, accurate, specific, and timely, and then improve performance” (Elements of Grading, pg 69).
Some Learners will seek, try, do and re-do. They will push through their journey of finding ways to do the most good for their students. They will model, nurture, share & collaborate without a title. They will focus on their students and how they learn. Unfortunately, some may not. They’ll look at a chart and say ” I’ll ask the students some questions, add best practices and voila! I’ve got an innovative class! I’m a lead learner!” I hope they realize there’s a little more to it than that, but I guess it’s a start.