For quite a long time I have heard the term "lifelong learner" and, as a teaching profession, we've talked about the need to encourage kids to become so-called lifelong learners. I also recently heard the term restless learner. For me, the term "restless learner" conjures up a very vivid image in my mind. I connect with being a restless learner in a way that it far more personally meaningful than the term lifelong learner. A restless learner seeks new opportunities for growth and is always seeking the road ahead. That's exactly what I want for my students.
As teachers, we know how to encourage desired behavior in students. Modeling a desired behavior is the best way to encourage my students to follow suit. So, when we want students to be restless learners, we have to act likewise. Right now, in the midst of all of the changes happening in education with Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards, there is ample opportunity to model for our students what it takes to be a restless learner.
It's no walk in the park being a restless learner. It's a lot of work. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail. There will be more restless nights than we care to admit. There will be tears and there will be triumphs. And that's all part of the process and part of what we have to model for students. Trying to shield them from it, sugarcoat it or run from it deprives our students of a healthy role model for what it takes to be a restless learner. But sharing it means exposing a less than perfect side of ourselves to others. That means we have to take a risk.
One of the reasons why I started by PhD program and changed jobs this year is because I was restless and wanted to grow more. Staying in the classroom, even with changes in how and what I taught, made me feel stagnant. I knew that to continue to grow professionally I needed to leave the classroom. So, I did. It wasn't easy. I cried when I left Beechwood. I lost sleep because I felt overwhelmed and out of my league at times. But I've learned more this year than I have in the past five years combined. And that? That makes me feel alive and restless for even more.
So, when the open road calls to me this summer and I drive down the highway, I will certainly be reflecting on this year and thinking about what the next one has in store for me. What challenges will come my way? What new skills will I develop? What new insights will I gain into myself and my profession? I don't know, but I'm really looking forward to finding out!