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Approach Professional Learning with Courage
November 14, 2023
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.
-James Baldwin, 1924-1987, American writer

Thanks to Exchange Leader Karen Nemeth for sharing today's message:

I’ve been teaching college courses, conference presentations, and teacher workshops for over 40 years, but recently a new approach really opened my eyes. I was asked to do a keynote address at an early childhood conference focused on choosing courage. This captured a feeling I’ve held for many years: When we ask teachers to truly participate in professional learning, we are asking them to take a leap of courage to make change happen! Brené Brown and Tonya Ward Singer offer key resources:

  • Whenever we ask a professional to change something, it’s like we are asking them to admit the old way is no longer valid. This can feel like an attack on their “professional self-esteem.” There’s no way to improve if we don’t have the courage to let go of an old practice, so why not be open and supportive about it?

  • Brené Brown says, “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort.” It can be uncomfortable to learn and try new teaching practices, but that’s what is needed for continued growth and professionalism. Work together on what will help make the necessary discomfort more acceptable: More time? More input? More comfortable environment? More buy-in from leaders and coaches?

  • And speaking of buy-in, wouldn’t you agree that successful professional learning depends on more than just the participation of teachers? Do the leaders have the courage to attend workshops? Do they dedicate themselves to fully understanding the change they ask staff to undertake? Are they ready to fully support implementation? Do they model respect for courageous professional growth and learning?

Professional learning needs to be a system-wide effort where everyone supports everyone else, and everyone feels a bit uncomfortable but safe to take courageous steps toward change and improvement.

Learn more about the Exchange Leadership Initiative.


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