If There Has Been No Learning

If there has been no learning, there has been no teaching.

As educators, we work in service of student learning.

We ask where a learner is now (assessment), where a learner is going (curriculum learning expectations), how a learner will get there (strategies to ensure students construct that learning) and how we will know (monitoring through assessment).

This evidence of learning tells us that teaching is happening.  It involves being present in the learning of each and every one of our students.  It involves being responsive to identified learning needs.  It involves incredible skills, personal fluidity with the content, relationships with students, and ongoing learning on the part of the educator.  Because this work is complex, we advocate for open, deprivatized practice, connection with other educators, and ongoing learning with colleagues f2f and at a distance.

We advocate for educators to learn from each other at every opportunity.

But this also takes skill and a critical eye to where the value is.

Just because something is online, doesn’t make it good for our kids.

Our online open world of collaboration and learning is full of opportunity.  Agency and access for educators means learning can happen anywhere, anytime.  But are we developing the digital literacies of our teachers to help them distinguish valuable learning from “fluff”? In the attention economy, are teachers equipped to recognize sound educational practices amid the noise of commercial interests and self-promotion?

Anyone can publish a podcast, host an online “conference”, write a blog, host a workshop, promote themselves as a “speaker”, do a “keynote”, self-proclaim to be an “expert”, but does the message actually have any value?

“Loud online” does not equate to “expertise in education”.  Writing words on an image and tagging it with the names of Twitter rockstars does not make you an educator worth listening to.

Sharing profusely, self-promoting endlessly, signing your class up for everything – these things do not create value for others.

And they’re dangerous when educators equate them with good teaching. (And I agree with Audrey Watters.  Sharing isn’t caring.  Caring is caring.)

We need to help educators, especially our teacher candidates, and those new to online environments, develop the critical thinking skills to see through the hype and self-promotion, and ask the right questions about what is worth their time when it comes to open online professional learning, and all professional learning for that matter.

A simple place to begin is with what teaching is about in the first place: student learning.

Before jumping on a digital  bandwagon, ask if it’s about what the teacher is doing (activities), or if there is any evidence of student learning?

If you demand just one thing when engaging in online professional learning, let it be,

Show me the learning“.




Featured image by Ben White on Unsplash


“If there has been no learning, there has been no teaching.”

Original quote by Cathy Fosnot and Maarten Dolk, p. 1, Young Mathematicians at Work, Constructing Multiplication and Division.  Heinemann Publishers, 2001.


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