On sharing to learn and learning to share.

Back in week 2 of #etmooc Dean Shareski did a session on sharing, at the time I was a bit distracted, I was packing up to head out to #educon early the next AM. I listened along noncommittally…Dean presented several seemingly simple suggestions, which successfully lodged in my brain (think tapeworm cyst in meat, later hatching when conditions are optimal, sorry, Biology teacher metaphor). I  will only focus on one of his suggestions on sharing although his other suggestions did impact my thinking and actions around sharing.

But this one sneaky slide was the one that stuck, in that splinter-y way, that new ideas often do.
At the time I thought: Just what does he mean…we could “distill this thing down to 2 things?”

learn share

and…Professional learning (what is professional learning? Learning is personal, no matter what I learn about?) comes with an obligation to share? What?? I share lots and lots, at least I think I do? Learning is mine, I don’t need to share it….unless I want to…it’s completely personal, like private property, no way…does not need to be shared…ALL THE TIME.

I didn’t get it….AT ALL…and in that harried moment, I was just kind of annoyed…NEXT.

Over the past month, I began to see how profoundly accurate this deceptively simple, but deliciously nuanced, slide was and is. As I scanned my life for evidence of sharing and learning, I discovered, I shared most regularly and openly about my learning, in the classroom with my students; my learning is shared in my teaching, through my teaching, while teaching. I also noted working IN the classroom with living, breathing, reactive teenagers, was where I experienced my richest most insightful learning.

Huh, interesting…maybe.

As I carried along with this observation, watching for more data on learning and sharing in my daily life, I noticed that occasions where I shared my learning most openly, were also the ones that (seemed to) afford students wider doorways into their own learning; nodding heads, alert body language, focused eyes. My clearest teaching moments (those when in the flow with kids and class) were ones more closely associated with moments of sharing from my own learning and then the very natural chain reaction of students building on the sharing-learning to share insights of their own or trying new activities, habits, patterns. Maybe this is old news to you and I have been living in a cave, but this was a new shiny insight to me, no splinter or tapeworm cyst!

What connects my learning, be it professional or not, and teaching, is sharing openly; open heart, open mind, little i (as opposed to big I). Sharing as teaching, with an interactive audience, pulls me back quickly (like that last kiss goodbye both surprising but joyful) and frequently to learner mode; a rolling ball down the growth continuum, always pulled by sharing between, learner-teacher, learner-teacher.


Do you see it? Does it make sense? Is it like this for you?

Where in your life do you do you share “no holds barred”? Is it the same place you do your best learning? Is your learning and sharing evenly distributed over all areas of your life?

Would love to know!

And…thanks for sharing!

7 thoughts on “On sharing to learn and learning to share.

  1. Hello Carolyn,

    You always find the perfect words to describe and portray your thought and ideas. I am a true believer of learn-share. Not just with my students, but with colleagues. So, I would like to share what I have learned from you. To summarize it: “I think I am having a revolution” too. And trying hard to carry it forward here in Uganda.

    Thank you for sharing your learning; it certainly makes a difference in the lives, teaching and philosophy of others. Definitely, me!


    • Hey Emilia, appreciate you sharing you thoughts with me here. I am always amazed at how the simple act of sharing an idea and having it received is so simple but powerful. So although you may be very far away, for brief seconds here and out there on twitter we do connect through that sharing and receiving, pretty amazing to me and so thankful we have!
      best to you my friend,

  2. I really find, in a professional development sense, that if I don’t share what I know, it goes away. Which is why I am trying more often to be a presenter at staff meetings, conferences, etc, rather than sitting in the seats. If I can model the ideas/technology I am coming into contact with, then I am able to get ideas from the people I am sharing with and incorporate it into my own practise.

    It is harder with 11-12 yr olds to have them share with me, but I do find if I let go of the reins sometimes they are finding things I don’t know about.

    Great post, thanks for sharing. 😉

    • Hi Quinn,
      I think sharing takes learning to that next important level and makes it a mental commitment to go beyond ourselves. I know as a teacher I have been hesitant to share, as sharing is not a regular part of teacher, but it seems with social media, blogging and Twitter are slowly start to change this.
      I think the learning i get from students is more related to what it means to be a person (ie human condition) and gives empathy and insight into their experiences with learning.
      hope you are having a great year and keep sharing!

    • Hi Bo, back from Spring break holiday and slowly catching up 🙂 Yes agree, giving away or letting go both create space and provide the biggest returns. This is just not always our instinct or immediate reaction and requires faith and trust.

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