Standard 7: Life-long Learning

Educators engage in professional development and reflective practice, understanding that a hallmark of professionalism is the concept of professional growth over time. Educators develop and refine personal philosophies of education, teaching and learning that are informed by theory and practice. Educators identify their professional needs and work to meet those needs individually and collaboratively.

Left to right: my grandmother, “Po-po”, and I; photo of my first professional development workshop on SmartBoard technology; and sharing my newly-acquired Smartboard knowledge with my fellow teacher candidates the following week.

“Live until one is old, learn until one is old” was a Chinese proverb I heard often when I was young.  Teachers recited it to encourage student learning, and parents and elders would repeat the phrase as praise.  My grandmother, in particular, demonstrated such wisdom.

As far back as I could remember, my grandmother, or “Po-po” as I called her, was always enrolled in a class. When I was learning Chinese phonetics at age five, my grandmother enrolled in my kindergarten class and learned alongside me and the rest of kindergarteners. I thought it was strange at first, but I quickly got used to the idea that Po-po likes to learn. She rarely mentioned it, but I know she only completed grade five before she had to leave school to help with housework and other chores. As a girl born in Mainland China in the early 1920’s, Po-po’s early life was full of struggles. Perhaps Po-po enjoyed learning so much because she never had the opportunity to learn. Even at age 91, she still talked of her desire to learn more English. I often said to her, “Po-po, why bother? You don’t need to learn English. You won’t get a chance to use it.” I had always assumed she took the lessons as a way to socialize and form bonds with seniors. Upon reflection, I saw the genuine joy she always expressed for learning, in the way she spoke of her paintings and writings. It was not until this reflection exercise that I saw what a wonderful inspiration my Po-po is.

In keeping with Po-po’s passion for learning, I embraced the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop on Smart Board technology and subsequently shared my newly acquired knowledge with my colleagues.

The older I become, the more I appreciate the opportunity to learn, the process of learning, and the joy of learning. As an elementary school teacher, I know I will have many more opportunities to learn a wide variety of subjects. In this profession, not only will I be continually learning from my colleagues, but I will also be encouraged to keep updated with current pedagogy. Po-po’s legacy is part of me and I know that I will engage in lifelong learning with my peers, my students, and their families.