Taking the Long View

There’s a temptation to view learning as quick and direct.  I teach it, you learn it…as simple as that.  You don’t learn it, you must not have listened, you must not have tried…or I didn’t teach it right or well enough.

But over the years I have learned that it is not as simple as that.

Learning is complex…and complicated.  And much of what is going on in terms of learning isn’t visible on the surface.  Like an iceberg, most of the structure lies below the the waters edge–we can only see the tip.

Some days I can see evidence of my students’ learning.  And with some students learning is easy to spot.  With others, it’s not so easy to see.  You have to dig, watch closely and listen carefully, and sometimes sneak a peek when they don’t know you are paying attention.

And most of all, you have to take the long view.


Step back and wait.  Keep teaching and providing opportunities for active learning even when it doesn’t seem to be having the desired impact.  And I have to remind myself to think about my own learning processes too.  Like an onion, learning keeps layering on, building connections, drawing on what came before.  It takes time–sometimes longer than I want to learn new skills, to understand new concepts, to think in new ways.

But, I’m taking the long view.  I’m learning every day and so are my students, even if it isn’t noticeable to others.

10 thoughts on “Taking the Long View

      1. kd0602 Post author

        And although it’s not easy, that’s where the powerful learning happens–over the long term. Hard to capture, but powerful when you do!

  1. Susan Minnicks

    When Gordon died I figured it would take about two years just to clean up and reorganize. It’s been a year and I’m more than half-way there. The long view has always served me well, i suppose because i teach language and writing and know it doesn’t “happen” overnight.

  2. Stacey Goldblatt

    “I think overnight success is a myth…” No doubt. 10,000 hours, right?

    All of this makes me think of the wonder of change we get to observe in our students. What I love is the kaleidoscope effect that seems to take place as we’re seeking: As we’re looking for growth, we see a glimpse of change in a writer’s notebook entry of one student, a shift of voice in a poem from another student. It doesn’t happen all at once, but personally, with 40 students, it’s always happening somewhere, hence the change of color, the constant shifting and rearranging. Pretty stunning stuff of which we’re privy.

    Thank you for sharing this long view.


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