Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Great Teachers Are Also Learners

This article was also in this week's email newsletter, and I thought it also connected very closely with my action research.

In her article, "Why Great Teachers Are Also Learners," Vicki Davis (2012) talks about how educators can inspire students with their own curiosity.  Davis states that "As a teacher, the most important asset I can teach my students is a love of learning. In my 10 years teaching high school, I have found that making a deliberate and transparent effort to continue my own learning allows me to inspire my students to follow my footsteps."  She describes nice best practices that have served her well throughout her career.  The three that resonated the most with me were: 

  • "Talk about the new things you're learning, and let your enthusiasm show,"
  • "Show students that you are willing to investigate," and
  • "Let students see you proudly sharing your learning."
What am I learning about collaboration:
My love of math has grown exponentially since I became a math teacher.  (Seriously, I was not a fan of math when I was in school.)  But I think since starting the Math Leadership program at Bank Street, and doing math with my colleagues this year in our team meetings, my love of math has grown even more.  I used to be afraid to try and solve problems more than one way.  Now, I get excited when  a student does.  I used to only focus on getting the right answer, because I thought that that was all that mattered.  Now, I love hearing a student explain their whole process... it's beautiful!  

Basically, since becoming a math teacher five years ago, my appreciation of math has grown.  But I don't think an appreciation is enough.  I can appreciate good art, or a good piece of music, but when you create that piece of art or music, that brings your appreciation to a whole new level.  My new thinking?  I don't just appreciate math.  I do math. And every single day, I strive to inspire my 8th graders to do the same. 

Davis, V. (2012, February). Why great teachers are also learners.  The Atlantic. Retrieved February 21, 2012 from


  1. Wow Anna! This is a very powerful post - and inspirational! I like that you said you don't just appreciate math you DO math which in turn is modeled for your students. Bravo!! The math department head here at KPS has decided to make the word math a verb. So that when you are problem solving, persevering, thinking critically you are "mathing"!

  2. Anna,
    I wonder if the article would resonate with your colleagues who you have been doing math with as well?
    I know your question focus on doing math together, but another way to collaborate would be to share a reading together and talk about it...

  3. Hi Anna.

    I’m with Katie—what do you think the response would be if you shared this article with your colleagues? And I love what Maureen said about math as a verb—your newfound approach to doing math is wonderfully inspiring.

    And the three points that resonate with you—if we replaced the word “students” with “teachers” in the second and third points, we’d have inspired words for a leader, don’t you think so?

    Again, a superb job integrating literature in an authentic way…

    I leave you with this great quote that I think you’ll appreciate:

    “Not many years ago I began to play the cello.
    Most people would say that what I am doing is “learning
    to play” the cello. But these words carry into our minds
    the strange idea that there exists two very different
    processes: (1) learning to play the cello; and (2) playing
    the cello. They imply that I will do the first until
    I have completed it, at which point I will stop the first
    process and begin the second. In short, I will go on
    “learning to play” until I have “learned to play” and
    then I will begin to play. Of course, this is nonsense.
    There are not two processes, but one. We learn to do
    something by doing it. There is no other way.”

    John Holt
    (American author and educator, 1923-1985)