Before we get rolling, yes, this is my room almost ready to start the year. In teaching, I generally think we have three types of teachers.
We have the ones who just go through the motions, who get there at the bell, and leave at the bell. These are the ones who you never see at a school function. The ones who don’t do a whole lot to their rooms. They arrive at school the day teachers are due back, not a day before. While they are at school, they do their job. They are reliable, but, average in most cases.
Next, we have the teachers who force us (and students) to wonder why they are here at all. They appear to dislike kids, they dislike their jobs, they dislike their principal, asst. principal, etc. They are so filled with negativity, it drips from their words when they speak. Enough about those, you get the idea.
Finally, you have the teacher who is energized. They want to create learning experiences for their students. They thrive on making things different, making them challenging, making kids think. These are also the teachers who constantly seek good learning experiences for themselves. They actively look for great teachers to add to their own PLN, people they can go to for ideas, and bounce ideas off.
Too often, the school year starts, and the training stops. We have those days built in throughout the year where we get “Staff Development” but how often do we really develop? This is not to say that our districts do not bring in some great trainers, but that perhaps if we attended trainings with other people in our field, we would get a whole different outlook on things.
If the only people we ever interact with during professional development are the people we work with, how do we expect to bring new, fresh ideas to the table? Sure, sometimes you might get lucky and get a great teacher move into your district, someone with fresh ideas… however, eventually, unless people seek learning elsewhere, we get tapped out.
This is where conferences come in. As teachers, we should welcome the chance to attend conferences in our field. By attend, I mean we actually need to go, and go willing to learn. This is not just an excuse to go get a few days away at the expense of your school. This is an opportunity to interact with some great educators who you can garner great tips from. Even better, if you manage to connect with educators to keep the learning going.
Today, many teachers connect in a number of ways to continue learning and getting ideas. I am a big Twitter fan, and the education community on Twitter is huge… you just have to go look for it. Check out Cybraryman’s website for some great ways to help you connect. Be sure to check out the Twitter Chat schedule, and jump into one.
Regardless of how you do it, as this school year gets going, don’t let yourself stagnate. Seek out new learning opportunities, and act on what you learn. The world is constantly changing, and so should our teaching.