This quote is posted in my classroom above my bulletin board. I refer to it often when talking about choices with my students. [It is from Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go.] It is also applicable to learning and opportunities. Teachers create learning experiences for students on a daily basis by providing engaging lessons and creating a culture of learning. We cannot force children to learn. We merely provide the vehicle for learning and our students choose whether they want to jump on and join us or watch us drive on by. The same is true for teachers. We decide whether we will pursue further learning opportunities. The question then becomes: how can we continue to develop our own skills?
If I look around my building, there are many resources for continued learning. As Dr. Seuss says “you know what you know”, but what do your colleagues in your building know that they can share? Experts surround us and we need to use them more often as resources for our continued learning. Our staff meets for one period per week in collaboration groups to focus on different projects connected to our school inquiry goal. Each one of my colleagues provides a unique perspective, passion and educational background. My colleagues will form part of my learning network.
My District provides a wealth of professional learning opportunities for teachers. Some of these opportunities are in-service workshops, while others occur after school hours. Here is a list of what is being offered this year:
Attending district learning opportunities allows you to meet others with the same interests, which helps to create another network outside of your own building. External networks can be very useful for finding resources and experts.
As educators, ‘[we] can steer [our]selves in any direction [we] choose’. Professional learning is our responsibility. We are given 6 professional learning days a school year in our contract, but this is not enough. Every year we are given a different group of learners in our classrooms and it is our responsibility to continue learning so that we can provide them with the best possible learning environment. I believe that a large majority of our learning as educators is based on our classroom needs, personal growth goals and our career aspirations.
Currently, I have a class full of students who are struggling with focus. Some of my own professional learning is focused on the brain and learning. Many of my recent Google searches have been focused on ‘how the brain learns’ and ‘executive function’. Internet searches have been a great way to find resources but my ultimate resource for learning is Twitter.
Twitter is a tool that provides resources and networks. Twitter allows me to connect with experts and find information easily using hashtags. It can be far more efficient than using Google. For those new to Twitter, there are many resources on the best ways for educators to embrace Twitter. I have two Twitter accounts – one for my classroom (@DGroom207) and one for my own professional learning (@Coelhoteacher). Here are some links to resources that you might find useful:
Twitter in 60 Seconds by James Gates
The Teachers Guide to Twitter from Edudemic
The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Education from TeachThought
The final way that we develop our skills is through continuing our education. Some teachers choose to pursue a Masters degree, while others pursue a diploma. The type of certification that we seek is irrelevant. Our goal is the same – continuing to develop our own skills, adding to our toolbox, finding resources and improving our networks to improve the learning environment for our students.
Edudemic, The Teacher’s Guide to Twitter, retrieved on October 17, 2015, from http://www.edudemic.com/guides/guide-to-twitter/
Gates, J. (2009). Twitter in 60 seconds, retrieved on October 17, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYz9M70KVR0
Hootsuite (2014). A Dr. Seuss Inspired Guide to Twitter, retrieved on October 17, 2015, from http://www.slideshare.net/hootsuite/drseuss-twitterguideslide?ref=http://www.schrockguide.net/twitter-for-teachers.html
Teachthought, The Complete Guide to Twitter Hashtags for Teachers, retrieved on October 17, 2015, from http://www.teachthought.com/twitter-hashtags-for-teacher/