For the Sake of What?

In my last post I introduced the concept of “embodiment” and outlined a process, that if followed, insures that our professional development initiatives “stick”.

“When we embody something we can take action without thinking about it. In order to get to a place where a new behavior or action is embodied, we must practice it. “

Once again, here are the basic steps necessary to have the new skills and behaviors we teach stick:

1. Recognize that attending professional development is only the first step in our learning.
2. The design of the PD session includes a set of specific daily practices for participants to engage in after the session.
3. The design of the PD session also includes the creation of Learning Teams that meet to discuss individual progress and to support each other as they engage in new practices and behaviors.
4. Require that the teacher of any PD course, monitor the Learning Teams and their practices.

Intuitively we know that for any serious and meaningful (embodied) change to take place, we have to anticipate a phase of learning that will be uncomfortable. In this phase of learning we are “beginners”. As beginners, everything feels new, strange, and odd. We feel enormous pressure to fall back to skills and behaviors that feel natural and comfortable to us. If we are to sustain our commitment to change, we need a deeply rooted and felt sense of purpose; a “for sake of what?”.

Why would we take on a new skill or behavior? Why would we put ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being “beginners”? Why would we undergo the rigor of practicing skills and behaviors that make us feel like total losers because we are so bad at them the first times we try them? What will compel us to go back to our practices, if we slip and drift back to our old ways for a while?

Each of us needs to answer the question “for the sake of what?” in our own way. It is completely personal; yet larger than ourselves.

What is your, “for the sake of what?”



2 thoughts on “For the Sake of What?

  1. Pete,
    Good question. It strikes me as very similar to a student asking, “Why do I need to know this?” or “When will I ever use this?”

    My answer to the “for the sake of what” at the moment is simply…learning. I think I’ve been learning more in the last few weeks since NYSCATE and joining Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s and Will Richardson’s PLP project, than I have in quite a long time.

    As a social studies teacher I’ve always been an avid reader of history. But that reading was really in my comfort zone.

    The new learning I’ve been doing lately is much more challenging. I’ve been reading so much that is alien to me in so short of time that I haven’t yet processed how it will actually change my practices. For now the I’m learning for learning’s sake. Hopefully as I internalize my learning the “sake” of the learning will become more readily apparent.

    I like the questions you ask and the fact that you take the time to respond to your reader’s comments. Thanks for asking the questions.

  2. Mike;
    You’ve taken the first steps of the journey even without a sense of “Why?”. That is quite powerful.

    I think the answer to your “For the Sake of What?” is very near the surface. Listen for it.


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