Chief Learner

 I used to teach my students,

But now, as chief learner in my classroom, we create learning together.

I used to use technology to enhance student learning,

But now I empower geniuses to use technology to connect, create, contribute, and collaborate.

I once was the teacher up front,

But now I sit in a student desk elbow-to-elbow with learners.

If I could I would give the gift of lifelong learning to every child.

I would always be patient and guide them to their passions.

I will not quit my quest to inspire and empower them,

But I need them to keep inspiring and empowering me as well.

I’m not always successful,

But I do love them and will keep telling them they are geniuses until they believe it.

I won’t give up,

But I get discouraged when students can’t seem to unlearn the old ways.

I used to teach my students,

But now I am the chief learner in my classroom.

~Denise Krebs

August, 2012. It’s been a busy month.

Early in the month, I had a week of relaxing vacation where all I did was read and hike. Then I came back to a classroom needing attention. Now, I’ve just finished my first full week of a new school year.

It’s also Connected Educator Month, where I have had three awesome experiences!

It’s been a great month! I wrote the poem above because I was inspired by my connections. Thank you, PLN!

15 thoughts on “Chief Learner

  1. Beautiful poem, and the quote is PERFECT for what we do. It’s going to be the best year yet.

  2. Ditto to what Laura said! The best year yet! (And more to come, I’m sure!)

  3. I love your quotation. Your poem speaks volumes of what passionate teachers feel. Thanks!!

  4. Laura, Joy, and Kris,
    Three of my favorite PLN members! Thanks so much for connecting with me and helping me to have my best year yet! You guys are awesome!


    1. Robyn,
      Yes, by all means! Thanks! I have so many people in my connected world who feel this way. It’s wonderful to be a part of connecting with all of you!

      Thanks for asking,

  5. Could you let me know if there are any teachers who teach special education in this group? I want to make changes in my teaching, but am not sure it will work. There are so many studies that show “direct teaching” is what works with students in special education. The side by side teaching, giving power, sounds wonderful, but I would hate to think that I would need to leave my field to do it.

    1. Anita,

      Have you checked out #spedchat on Tuesdays at 8:30pm EST? You might get more responses there to any questions.


  6. Anita,
    What a great question! I don’t know of any, but I will try to find out about special ed teachers. We will be having Genius Hour Chat on Wednesday, 9/5, at 8 p.m. Central. I will ask then about special ed teachers involved in #geniushour. Maybe you’d like to join us and we can talk about special education there.

    I hope I’m not being presumptuous when I continue my comment because I am NOT a special education teacher.

    My students also still get direct teaching as needed, but it tends to be more one-on-one and small group teaching these days. Do you think the kind of learning and teaching I talk about are related to differentiation? The reason I ask is because I just finished the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Have you read it? Melody, the main character, definitely benefited when her teachers knew her and differentiated, pushing her to her maximum ability.

    I still have reluctant students who I need to push harder and who don’t seem to want to learn for the joy of learning. I have to modify for them.

    The most important thing, though, I believe a change has happened in me. I have truly become the chief learner in my classroom. I believe it’s a state of mind that all children need to witness — to see their teachers as learners. We don’t have all the answers, but we keep looking for them, which is what you are doing by being a connected educator and leaving your comment on this blog post.

    Thanks for asking. I hope you can find some special education teachers to give it a whirl. Best wishes!


  7. Hi Denise,
    Being a learner along with my student learners is a mindset that I hope is being taught in college classes for future teachers. I firmly believe that we need new teachers who can create an environment that encourages curiosity, passion, a love of learning and a deep understanding that learning along with their students is a must.

    After teaching for 33 years, it’s a change for me but I know it’s a necessary change. I get discouraged when students are not motivated and just want the teacher to find the answer, but like anything else, growing pains are going to be there. For most of their schooling, students have understood that the teacher is the one who teaches and knows all of the answers.

    For the past few days, we have been learning about the difference between fixed and growth mindset. We read an article about how intelligence can grow if one challenges and works the brain. We watched a video where Michael Jordan discussed that he hoped he didn’t make basketball look easy; he discussed how hard he worked, how many mistakes he’s made and while it wasn’t a “growth” mindset video, his comments definitely were great examples. The students wrote down any phrases or words they heard that were examples of a growth mindset. We also watched a short video that showed how the brain makes connections with new information. After that, I asked them to create something that showed their understanding of what it means to have that type of mindset.

    I did this last year as well and then throughout the year kept returning to it, especially when I heard fixed mindset comments.

    I love reading your blog posts and comments from others.
    Have a great rest of Labor Day weekend.

    1. Thanks, Kris. I always love your comments. There is always so much food for thought! I’m going to read more about fixed and growth mindset. I’m not familiar with those terms, but I think I am familiar with people who have either a fixed or growth mindset.

      Thanks again!

  8. I am here and I am reading. Can Leslie please give me more information on how to get to the special ed. sight she wrote about? I am not really familiar with blogging, but am learning. I don’t know what #spedchat is or how to get there. I am new to this and was given this address by a person who is interested in change. I am very discouraged with my current classroom situation and need guidance on how to better my own teaching. I believe in change for the better but am currently with so many people who are glued to the old ways. I have to do something to guide change or I won’t survive. You can’t keep doing something that you know in your heart is not right. Thanks for all of your guidance. I will be monitoring, if not contributing. I wish you all well.

    1. Anita,
      Do you have a Twitter account? I looked for you, and saw there were three people with your name. One was a teacher, who hasn’t used her account for a while.

      Anyway, that’s where you can observe or contribute to a discussion about special ed–on Twitter! There are a bunch of education chats on Twitter. The one Leslie mentions is #spedchat on Tuesdays at 8:30pm EST. I mentioned one called #geniushour, which will be on Wednesday this week — the first Wednesday of the month at 9:00 EST.

      Let me know if you want to dust off your Twitter account or open one before tomorrow evening, and I can direct you in how to join. You will definitely meet special ed teachers who are passionate about change!


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