Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How do you learn and grow as an educator?

We are continuously trying to improve our teaching and to increase our students’ learning for various reasons, which include increasing test scores, improving our evaluation standards and most importantly to prepare our students for their ever changing world.  But what is the best way for educators to learn?  For many years it has been a speaker or company coming to the schools or trainings and going through a presentation (Death by PowerPoint) to all of the educators in the room.  This goes against everything that we preach is effective teaching and shouldn’t professional development be a learning opportunity?

I remember one of my first professional development opportunities that I had where I felt like a traditional student and less like an educator. I was in my second year teaching and I was attending a county supported running record workshop.  As I sat in the training the presenter spoke about the how to’s and what to look for.  The problem was that I had the responsibility of completing 75 running records the year before. Was this a benefit for my learning, maybe, but it would have benefited me more to talk to my peers about what they do after the running records to talk about mistakes that I may have made, because my first year teaching I made LOTS of mistakes.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend #NCTies15 to listen to speakers and talk with peers about their learning and how they were growing their craft. I hope that #edcamps continues to take off and we move away from the traditional sit and get workshop that is a one sided discussions. What I liked about the NCTIES workshops is that many of them moved away from the power point and one-sided discussions and incorporated back channeling (a way to ask questions and discussion without taking away from the presentation). There were discussion boards, resources to try out with others, and more network connecting to build off of the two-day workshop.  Many times when we leave a PD training or workshop we don’t continue to reflect and evaluate what we heard or worked on in the training. We usually just go back to our comfort zone. We as educators need to continue to surround ourselves with people that will ask questions, challenge our thinking and support us in our continuous growth.