When you’re young, you think you know everything. Or, maybe that’s just me. I started my teaching career confident that my college had prepared me for anything that could be thrown at me. I was 21-years-old and ready to teach!
With each year that followed, I grew more humble. I continue to realize how much I don’t know and still need to study, practice, and refine. The beautiful thing about working in education is that learning is embraced and expected. Quality teachers and administrators are always seeking and receiving professional development. Our field is exploding with new information from neuroscientists; information is more readily accessible at any time thanks to MOOCs, blogs, Ted Talks, YouTube, and professional articles. You’d have to purposefully put effort into not growing as an educator.
I’m obsessed with learning how I can be a better teacher and wish I had more time to tap into all of the resources available. Excellent teachers graciously share new ideas and failures on Twitter, professors and specialists are publishing valuable material too fast to keep up*, and online courses pop up every month. I am not alone here: all teachers want to give their students the best, most effective learning experiences.
We can learn and use innovative techniques/strategies and spend countless hours studying how to improve at what we do, but we must never forget how it is received by the key stakeholders: students. I recently took a fabulous course about redefining the student learning experience with technology and began implementing it into our units. It was so cool!
Until…I asked for student feedback. This is nothing new. I regularly ask students, formally and informally, how I’m doing as a teacher. They are very honest and their responses always impact my future preparation, delivery, and/or perspective.
In this case, I asked students how I could improve the unit on Fossils and Archaeology that was delivered primarily as HyperDocs. With all my enthusiasm for transforming my teaching using technology and letting students choose their learning paths, a few students reminded me the importance of hands-on experiences (not just virtual) and the benefits of whole-class instruction. Oh yeah. I knew that! I was so caught up in the implementation of the shiny, new approach that I forgot the basics. Duh.
I say this genuinely: Thank goodness for our students. They not only keep our heads from getting big, they keep it real … we just need to remember to ask them how we’re doing and how to improve their learning experiences.
Now, I’ve got wrinkles and wear glasses, and I know there’s so much I have yet to learn. I start each day with goals and high expectations, confident that my students will throw things at me that I don’t expect. I am 36-years-old and ready to be taught!
*my favorite teachers: Jo Boaler (Math), Dan Siegel (Interpersonal Neurobiology), Carol Dweck (Motivation), Katie Novak (Universal Design for Learning), and Jess Lahey (Failure)