Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

“Good morning, gorgeous…🎶” Mary (as in J. Blige) sang to me this Saturday morning at 5:15 am. Before 6 am on a Saturday is still nighttime. Not feeling very good, nor gorgeous, I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed enough to get in my car, and drove home, still a bit bleary-eyed. (Did I ever tell you about how my husband and I sometimes live in different houses? Future post, perhaps.)

Why was I up at this ungodly hour on a Saturday morning? It was the TC Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion. If you’re not familiar, it’s a day of free literacy PD in your pajamas, basically. And it was absolutely worth the early wake up time, not just because of the great presenters and content, but also seeing the thousands of other educators who were there learning too. It’s inspiring.

My teacher bestie and I are always having conversations around why some of our colleagues never seem to be interested in learning more–this goes for teachers and administrators. And on the flip side, why are we and others constantly trying to learn more, even as we come close to 30 years of experience? When I was a new teacher, I know I was always reading and looking for resources to solve the giant list of things I didn’t know, as someone who started without any student teaching and only a couple of teacher prep courses under my belt. As I gained more experience, I continued to look for ways to hone my practice and continue to do so to this day. This inevitably leads me down rabbit holes of other books, other articles to read. It. Never. Ends. So it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that we, as educators, could ever get to a point where we don’t think there’s room for growth. I know there are a variety of reasons people can get into a fixed mindset, but how do we get out of it?

I’d love to know your thoughts about what the conditions are that prevent lifelong learning and how we overcome those obstacles.

  1. TammyB says:

    PD in PJ’s is a beautiful invention!

  2. NYOCW says:

    “It. Never. Ends.” (Thankfully). I don’t have an answer to your excellent question, but I would like to know: what are you reading now? Or what line of teacher inquiry are you currently pursuing?

  3. onathought says:

    Such a great question – I’m always up for learning more, and like you – love reading and getting in that rabbit hole. I do think one thing that happens is just people get overwhelmed and busy. Or, they try to make more of a work-life balance and that means that some of the deeper learning goes away for bit. I’ve had times like that. Maybe for some people it’s hard to get back on the learning train, especially if what they are doing feels good, or at least good enough?

  4. First, let me say that I’m intrigued about the 2 house marriage. 🙂 To your question I think there are probably many reasons. One factor I think is identity and proximity to the local decision-making power structure. If you have “been around long enough” and align well with the existing power structure, there may be little incentive to improve or grow your craft if you’ve been given to believe that you are fine as you are. I also think it’s surprisingly easy to become remarkably incurious about all kinds of things because once you realize how much you *don’t* know, you might be genuinely unsettled. Not everyone is psyched about being unsettled. (Even if we know that learning new things can be joyful.)

    • vivian chen says:

      Yes, Sherri! I agree with all of this. Two things I find particularly interesting about not enjoying that “unsettled” feeling: 1) how easily we forget that we put our students into that unsettled feeling and expect them to be good with it and 2) what are the factors to contribute to some being okay or even joyful about that need to learn more and others not so much.

  5. Lainie Levin says:

    That’s a really great question, Vivian. I mean, I know how much excitement and joy I get out of learning new things. There is joy for me in the work of learning. I wonder why other people might not want that for themselves.

    Which makes me wonder. Are they just resistant to learning as it relates to their craft? Do they like to learn things in their out-of-school lives? Which also leads me to think about people who resist new tasks, and the obstacles in their way – fear of failure? protective measures of rejection so they don’t have to feel unskilled or novice? I’m not sure. I know that for a long time I resisted learning things that I didn’t think I’d do well at. I wonder how much of that is at plat.

    WOW. You really got me thinking today. Thank you for this post!

  6. arjeha says:

    Can’t answer your question. I know that during my 40 years of teaching I was always looking for learning opportunities that would help me better meet the needs of my students.

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