When the Teacher Becomes the Student

#A2TPDClick the STAR to like this post! Comment below with your favorite professional development topics or strategies.

October 23, 2021

If you’re like me, October is when you finally start settling into your classroom routines and things level out. It’s also when things like Professional Development and Professional Learning Communities start coming up as topics of conversations and in meetings.

For many, the first thought is usually a deep sigh. Something else added to our plate. Something else to do. More documentation. I was just getting the hang of last year’s new stuff and it’s working, why change that?

But I want to challenge you to change your perspective. We need to set an example of what lifelong learning looks like for our students. If we dread learning, they will learn to dread learning. But if we learn to embrace this as an opportunity to improve, well, that changes everything. And since our students, and the world we live in, are different every year, learning to embrace that as a starting point will help you be the kind of teacher you want to be.

Some schools and districts will specify what they want they want the focus to be. A few will allow you to choose your own topics to explore. If your school or district doesn’t, but you have an idea, present it to them, you may be surprised to find they will support you!

Start by looking at your routines, habits and techniques. What’s an area that you dread or takes way too long every time you do it? That may be where you need to focus. What has changed in your subject area? Explore the new discoveries! There’s always new technology coming out, give it a try! One requirement we have to be rated highly effective is finding new things, so this is a great opportunity.

Don’t discount the idea of working with others! We’ve all heard the expression many hands make light work and learning can be no different. Learning new things when you are busy can be daunting, so having others to share the load with, bounce ideas off of, practice with and vent to can be greatly beneficial. For the same reason we have students work in groups, we can benefit from those varied perspectives, too.

Be sure to get word out about what you are researching. There may be others with experience and resources to save you time or they maybe interested in joining the team. either way, it helps you broaden your perspective as you gain new insight.

Keep notes on what your thoughts and ideas are an make yourself a big sign or post it you will see to remind you of your focus and your why. When going down the rabbit hole of research, it is easily to get derailed and go off in the wrong direction, losing valuable time.

Gather data. Ugh, the D word. But it’s beneficial to see if what you are learning and doing is working. Remember, not all data is Quantitative and numbers based, Qualitative data can be helpful and gathered by observation, feedback, surveys, interviews, etc. Just be sure to have some method of measuring. If it can’t be measured, adapt your focus so it can be.

Vary your resources that you draw from. Websites, scholarly articles, book studies, YouTube videos, and personal interviews are all helpful, and the more mediums you bring in, the more well rounded your research can be.

Make sure you have an objective to apply your learning. Every teacher has a formal observation in the second half of the year, so make your objective something you can practice and then apply for that observation. Remember, it doesn’t have to work or get the results you want, so don’t worry about failing. Sometimes, how you handle speedbumps and dead ends in an observation can help your evaluation so much more than a perfectly executed lesson for your supervisor.

I want to take a minute to namelessly praise all the amazing educators, mentors and leaders I have worked with over the years that have helped me grow as an educator. The conversations and feedback I have gained from our conversations and projects have stayed with me. And to all the students I have taught over the years, thanks for being my guinea pigs and going along with some of my crazy lesson ideas, and for your authentic feedback on whether or not that lesson should stay in my repertoire or get trashed.

Be sure to click the STAR to like this post and comment below with your favorite professional development topics or strategies. Also, be sure to share this blog with other teachers using the hashtag above, and subscribe so future blogs come straight to your inbox! I blog about teaching, but also food, family, travel and other inspirations! You can also find me on Twitter (@addictedtoteac1), Facebook (Addicted2Teaching) or even on YouTube to check out some videos before I just focused on blogging (Sonya Barnes – Addicted to Teaching) and join the conversation, get more ideas, share your story or just interact with me.

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