Learning Without Evidence

I was struck today by the great moments of learning in my life that aren't supported by evidence.

Fortran: I struggled through that programming course and didn't receive a high grade, yet it underlies the way I run my classroom for success and differentiation each and every day.

Pilgrims, Prophets and Lovers: My Jesuit instructor was very upset that I didn't do all the reading and put little time into my work, yet that course taught me about "journey" and gave me confidence to journey throughout my life--very powerful.

Professor Cording: He ignited my passion to learn, question and wonder.  He gave me tremendous insight to words and phrases, poetry and literature, yet when he asked me to meet with him and discuss my work, I was too shy to do it.  Yet, I bring his inspirational teaching into my grade school classroom each and every day.

Ms. McLaughlin: I wasn't the strongest reader, in fact it was only in third grade that I began to read books on my own, and that's because Ms. McLaughlin made time every day for us to pick up books and read them without constraint or heavy oversight. Instead, she created wonderful displays that enticed us to read.  That's the first year I actually saw myself in a book that I read myself.

Ms. Ball: I've written about her before as she was the cause of my first, memorable revelation.  As I've mentioned, before kindergarten and my teacher, Ms. Ball, I thought the world only consisted of my neighborhood and city, then when she showed us the slides of her trip to Holland--a fire burst inside of me, the powerful heat and excitement of a revelation exploded: There's a world bigger than the one I imagined, I thought.  Ms. Ball was also the person who first read a book to me that I could identify with. It was Make Way for Ducklings, and that revealed to me that a book can be about a place you've been to and enjoyed.

Gym: I was the worst runner in grade school.  In fact, many decades later, I run faster now than I did when I was ten.  Yet, that powerful experience of being the last in the 300-yard run taught me what it's like to struggle, be at the bottom and not achieve.

I could go on and on, but the point I want to make is that some of our most powerful learning doesn't show up in the evidence; cannot be captured on a test or piece of paper, and can only be described as amorphous.  That's something we can't forget as we create systems, instruction and environments for our students' optimal learning, growth an development.
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