When Does Profound Learning Occur?

I’m becoming more cognizant of how and how often I am using the term ‘learning.’ Like most, I’ve been using it mainly to describe how well students regurgitate facts and associate it with an achievement score.  I was recently sharing with some principals in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and about halfway through the presentation I started to key in on how we were all using this word to talk about our essential work and the essential components of our work. Some of the mentions applied to a newer understanding of what we want our students to be able to do but some were still under a standard from 10-20 years ago.

wp-1479003284678.pngWhen you’re in a conversation and the term learning comes up, do you know if its a reference for a newer understanding of learning and exploring or can you see that its a mention of regurgitating facts and an end score? For instance, describing the process we go through when we encounter setbacks and what we go through to overcome them. Or describing how we as lead learners create opportunities to shift mindsets of educators in our building and departments to challenge the status quo. Or just to describe that everyone, students and teachers alike, have to commit to being lifelong learners and continue to acquire new skills and embrace the work in evolving understanding and mindsets to make sure we are reaching kids.

Profound Learning

We can talk about the acquisition of facts, which many adhere to as the definition of learning, but this limited definition does not fit the vision and scope of what learning and school need to be. Learning is not a destination or a grade or a final report. We should be willing to embrace the different direction we see instructional design and passion inspired investigation taking us.

Profound learning occurs when:

  • Learners have choice – When we personalize opportunities for students, enable students to dive into areas they are passionate about. The question I get often is how do we align this to standards? This is where instructional design and student conversations come in. Guiding students through a learning process with our understanding of learning targets and CCSS is a new skill set for teachers. As lead learners, we also need to embrace personalized learning paths for our teachers and co-workers.
  • Learners are empowered – Engagement vs Empowerment – Check out my previous post;
  • Learners are creating – For so long, education has meant teacher centered practices and activities [I include copying worksheets for students to complete here]. When we create open ended learning activities for students and embrace different the varied result we will get from students;
  • We make timetables secondary;
  • We hug/encourage learners more than assess their work;
  • When we make edtech a critical part of throughput and output [not necessarily the only part];
  • When students can intelligently and passionately talk about their work with others;
  • When we make goal setting a priority;
  • When we shift from supervisor/teacher centered practices to learner centered practices.


One response to “When Does Profound Learning Occur?”

  1. In this information era we caannot describe learning as regurgitating facts when students can gather facts all day long! While there still are some processes that allot a fair amount of recollection (math facts, for instance); our primary job as educators is to teach students how to make sense of it all and how to apply information.

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