Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Do You Learn?

I make it a habit each summer to try new things and to put myself in situations in which I will inevitably grow as an educator. This summer I made a very important decision. I decided to change the way I learn. Up until this point in my career, much of my knowledge derived from the latest educational best seller or from local conferences.  
With a little hesitation, but much curiosity, on June 13, I made the decision to join Twitter. Within only weeks, I was thinking, learning, and growing among some of the best educators on earth at all hours of the day. I was learning more from 140 characters than a 140 page book. Through encouragement from my new PLN, I began sharing my own reflections on my new personal blog along with participating in stimulating hangouts through Google+. I've come to the conclusion that modernizing the way I learn has undoubtedly changed and improved the way I lead. 

One of my favorite new ways to learn is through #Edchat, a thought provoking forum made up of educators around the globe. Recently, the following tweet caught my curiosity.

"Change how you learn first. Once you change, you won't be able to go back to teaching the same old way." ~ Stephen Downes
As leaders, how can we get teachers to change the way they learn? How do we get teachers to remain intellectually curious both inside and outside the classroom throughout their teaching careers? As a leader, the least we can do for our teachers is to stimulate a curiosity for learning.  Here are five ways in which I believe we can strike up a curious conversation.
As leaders, we should...
  • Recognize what our teachers want to learn, as well as, what they need to learn. Then, make an effort to spark their curiosity.
  • Keep teachers in their uncomfort zone. Ask the right questions and want to hear their answers. “How” and “why” and “what if” questions will stretch the boundaries of their minds.
  • Assist teachers in looking at instructional challenges from a variety of angles. By discovering alternative ways of accomplishing the same problem, the teacher will learn a pool of possible solutions.
  • Commend good mistakes when risks are taken, mistakes are made, and lessons are learned. Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Urge teachers to take the time to practice what they learn. Curiosity without initiative does not translate into results.
Curiosity can steer us into places we never thought we could go and many times we return with leading-edge knowledge. I truly believe the more you learn, the more you will want to know. A little curiosity and a new way of learning can prepare our teachers to thrive in the ever changing environment that we face every day.
Cross-posted at http://www.connectedprincipals.com