This morning I ran 3.69 miles in 36:14. It was third attempt to restart my running after completing the St. Jude Half Marathon on December 1, 2012. My middle son Sam ran with me this morning and it was 27 degrees with light snow flurries when we headed out the door at 5:15.
Saturday morning I participated in John Spencer’s #rechat on Twitter. The topic for discussion was the use of data in schools. The discussion was interesting and thoughtful, but what reverberated in me was the question about the students’ role in knowing, analyzing, and reflecting on their own data. Paula White and Tom King, two educators that I highly respect really pushed my thinking in this regard.
It began with my response to a comment made by John:
— Philip Cummings (@Philip_Cummings) January 12, 2013
As the conversation progressed Tom chimed in retweeting and responding to one of my tweets:
— Tom King (@ProfTK) January 12, 2013
Then, after Tom had pushed me further, Paula asked:
— Paula White (@paulawhite) January 12, 2013
So, I have been thinking about this all weekend. As learners do we know what we don’t know? Can we? If so, how? As a professional educator committed to growing and changing as a teacher, I am well aware that there are many thing I don’t know. I’m still fumbling my way through (or toward) a more constructivist classroom. I’m trying to shift toward a more authentic, Project-Based (capitals intentional) approach to learning. I know I’m not there yet, I’m still reading, researching, conversing, trying, and failing at it. Sometimes I know what I need to learn, and sometimes I’m just lost with no idea what to do next. So, I lean on the great teachers around me. I head next door to talk things over with Alice. I read, re-read, and read again the stories and posts of people like Shelley Wright and John Spencer (among others) trying to glean from their experiences. So, do we know what we don’t know? Can we? I guess…it depends. (How’s that for an answer?) But the question has left me believing even more strongly in the value of a good teacher–someone who knows how to ask the right questions.
To bring this idea about learning back to the metaphor of running, I want to talk about one of my newer goals. I want to run faster. I know I’m not fast enough for a person of my size and age. The trouble is I really don’t know how to run faster. I’m still a novice runner. Sure, I know I need to improve my form. I need to work on my stride and engage in more plyometrics. I need to strengthen my core, and I should lose some weight. In this way I know some things I needs to learn (do), but as for how to go about these things, well, I’m really not sure. What should I do first? What’s the best way to do them? I need a coach, an expert, to help me. Do I know what I don’t know? Well, yes and no. But in the end, I think I’ll benefit most having a good teacher or coach.
So what do you think? Do you know what you don’t know?