I Know What I’m Doing

In recent days I finished reading a short book that chronicled the adventures of one man’s quest into house building 101.  He recognized that along the way he had made numerous errors in judgment, so much so that he subtitled the book Cluelessness Meets the Construction World.  The story takes several twists and turns as the author uses self-deprecating humor and lessons learned in the school of hard knocks to offer suggestions on what not to do in the process of building a house.

© 2013 Chris Dragon. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#47).

© 2013 Chris Dragon. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#47).

Having known the author for many years, I found the stories reflective of his personality.  His descriptions of circumstances formed word pictures that I could very well see in my mind.  But reflecting on the book for several days has caused me to seek benefit for myself even though I am not presently building a house nor do I plan to build a house in the near future.  So was my time invested in this read a waste?

Absolutely not!  Educators need to be reminded of a truth presented often in the book—we must learn to borrow brains.  The author entitled the book I Know What I’m Doing as juxtaposition to this principle—as educators we must be willing to constantly learn.  When an educator no longer feels the need to ask questions or learn new ideas, the educator has lost vision and will lose effectiveness.  Why?

In The Fifth Discipline (Senge, 1990) we are reminded that research indicates that two of the five key components to a synergistic learning organization are built around the idea asking questions and learning new ideas—these components are Personal Mastery and Team Learning.

Personal  Mastery

A Scent of Water (Earwood & Suiter, 2012) “describe(s) the discipline of personal growth and learning among individuals within the learning community. It speaks of the ability to think creatively about the goals of the learning community, the private Christian school. It speaks of a creative proactive activity rather than merely reacting to a circumstance.”

Team Learning

“Senge (1990) presents the theory and method of dialogue, defined as the action of a group, the learning community, becoming open to the flow of a larger intelligence or other ideas. Dialogue, in this case, is a group, a learning community, accessing a pool of common meaning. The purpose of dialogue is to go beyond any one individual’s understanding. In dialogue, individuals gain insights that simply could not be achieved individually” (Earwood & Suiter, 2012).

So the research shows that without each teacher a school seeking to continually improve both subject knowledge and pedagogical skills that systemic effectiveness is not possible. 

So as we ready for a new school year, what is your plan to improve your personal mastery as an educator?  It may include reading professional journals, attending professional development training, a self-guided research project, or maybe participating in a professional learning community.

And remember to actively participate in any and all team learning opportunities.

Above all, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of resting on your laurels with an I Know What I’m Doing mindset.  As my friend reminded his readers, we should seek to borrow brains.

What plans do you have to improve your personal mastery during the coming school year?  

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Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.

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  • Robert Pickett II

    Good truth!