Have you ever heard (or used) the phrase, “Ask three, then me”?  I heard other teachers use it with their students when I started teaching four years ago. The idea is simple: before students come and ask the teacher for help, they should check with three other sources. They can ask three friends. They can ask Google, Siri, and a friend. There are many possible combinations! The teacher is happy to help, as long as the student has consulted three other sources first. The main point of this phrase, I think, is to teach students to dig for answers. To think. To learn. To keep going when you’re stuck. NOT to expect that answers will be spoon-fed.

 But how many times do we enter into a new area of technology integration or classroom pedagogy and promptly shut down? It’s new! There’s change! We holler that we have too much on our plates (an accurate cry)! So we stop learning. We don’t ask three. We don’t practice what we preach. When we hit a snag, we either quit or ask someone who has more knowledge in the given area.

There is a common adage that says people should be lifelong learners. Most of us expect our students, peers, and administrators to continue growing in their knowledge and understanding. I think most of us expect that from ourselves. It’s why we read for fun, follow blogs and podcasts, keep up with current events, and attend PD.

Ask three.

It will help you learn better. It will add value to your understanding. When you take the time to solve the problem, the answer becomes more meaningful, and the process is easier to duplicate in the future. In his book Uncommon LearningEric Sheninger says, “We become the epicenter of our learning and determine what, where, and when we want to learn. This makes the learning process meaningful, relevant, applicable, and convenient. This type of learning is fueled by intrinsic motivation, which is the most pivotal ingredient essential to lifelong learning, growth, innovation, and sustainable change.”

Where can I find the three?

Here are FIVE sources you can ask before quitting:

  1. Peers– some of the teachers and staff in your building are experts in the area where you’re struggling. Use them. Thank them afterward. We can all learn from each other.
  2. Youtube– I personally go to Youtube for almost every question I am asked. It is the first place I look. As a visual learner, the videos help me learn as well as a person sitting right next to me.
  3. Google– (or whatever search engine you choose) I am amazed sometimes by questions I receive from students or staff. I Google it and find an answer in 10 seconds. Then I copy and paste the link for the answer. It’s a pretty great way to find most of our answers.
  4. Students– they are digital natives. So use them! A lot of the time, if they don’t know the answer, they can figure it out pretty quickly. It may even be that you have a few students in each class who are tech-savvy and can be leaders for you and the other students.
  5. PLN– use peers from around the world to collaborate with. There are so many great places to grow your PLN. You can use Shrock’s Guide to Creating Your PLN for assistance. Or just get on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+ and start looking around!

So here is my challenge to you: be a lifelong learner, even when it hurts. Don’t quit. Don’t give up! Don’t just expect to be spoon-fed an answer. Do your due diligence and stretch yourself in your own understanding. Former President Bill Clinton said, “For a person to remain competitive in today’s workforce, there must be continual learning.”  Learn!