When I think about the classes that I teach, I try to put myself in a role of a student to realize how much I would like to learn certain content in the way it is presented to me. Examples of the lessons that I enjoyed myself, as well as educators who awarded me with such an experience, help me create engaging content for my students. Being a teacher is a never-ending journey of being a student. The role of every educator requires constant professional growth and creativity, which could make the learning process for students even more engaging and enjoyable. In the same way as students do, teachers take notes or fill in their Wakelet collections of newly learned methods. Learning something new leads us to inspiration, no matter what causes that inspiration – colleague, students, internet, nature…
Annual Professional Development
These past two years were pretty complicated for many of us. Besides the fact, that I am missing my students so much, even more, I miss my PD opportunities. Every year I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in one or another PD event with educators from international schools all around the world. The last PD before the quarantine I had was Learning2 conference. This was one of the most valuable conferences I have ever been to, because it gave an amazing opportunity to connect with really professional educators which, actually, reinforced me to begin this exciting learning journey with COETAIL. This was a lifesaver in terms of getting new valuable knowledge, as well as inspiration to improve my teaching. This has been an amazing experience of learning, collaborating, accepting various challenges, sharing, reflecting and so much more. Now, I am looking back and trying to reflect on my PD experiences as well as find out where do I gather my gems of inspiration. I’ve described some of them in this blog post.
Places of Inspiration
Where inspiration comes from? John Spencer has emphasized various ways of getting inspired just like going for a walk in nature and resting, sharing experience in a community and giving feedback, building empathy in a group when working towards one goal, geeking out on cool stuff, playing, staying curious about the world, taking action in order to make stuff even if you are not feeling inspired or just using the random moments of inspiration. I strongly believe that action is the most powerful step in order to get inspired. When you take action, an amazing process starts happening in your brain that is followed by a “Wow!” moment.
My last experience of taking action to get inspired was recording my own video reflections for my final COETAIL project. I work on them every day, as a routine, no matter what else I have scheduled that day. I just record a video reflection a day. I used to hate making video recordings of myself, but the more I’m doing that, the more I like it.
Collaboration or Co-teaching
I have to admit that one of the most valuable teaching experiences to me is a collaboration with other teachers. Teaching together is an easy way to learn from each other as well as get inspired. Unbelievable, how many different ways and methods can be used to teach the same concept. Collaboration between teachers is an efficient way to look at the concept from different angles. Engaging students become so much easier. Sabrina Gates emphasizes the advantages of such collaboration in her article Benefits of Collaboration.
– Collaboration Helps Brainstorm Creative Ideas. Peer-to-peer collaboration can turn a small idea into the seeds for something fabulous.
– Professional Collaboration Teaches You About Yourself. Learning and working with others encourages to dig deeper and explore who you are as a learner and a teacher.
– Learning Collaboratively Helps Students. Teacher collaboration positively impacts student achievement and allows us as educators to explore new territory.
One more way of learning from colleagues is observation. Every school year our administration gives teachers a certain task of setting our SMART goals as well as plan at least a few peer observations. After our peer observation, we also have to provide some feedback in a form of advice.
Learning from Educators via Social Media
Social Media is a great place of inspiration even if you are only a lurker. My very first Learnign2 conference introduced me to the power of sharing in the educational world. One of the main goals of Learning2 conferences for educators is to gather and learn from each other by sharing. This has been one of the most efficient ways of my growth as an educator. This conference opened my eyes and introduced Twitter as a great tool to connect with other educators. All you have to do is just to find and follow other talented educators and it works by a principle of a chain. Once you begin posting education-related posts and use # character in order to emphasize terms related to the topic, the process of sharing and collaborations starts itself. When I was a lurker, I used to search for relevant topics of interest on Twitter using # (you can start from #coetail. Many famous educators can be found here :). If you decide to try Twitter, check out #pubpdeurope or #pudbpdasia. Once the pandemic is over, I am sure similar successful events will be resumed. Similar events are one more great way to make new connections with excellent educators all around the world. These groups and Twitter in general, have been one more place of inspiration to me. I have a number of really cool tech-related ideas gathered on Twitter that were later successfully implemented in our school. Honestly, sometimes I feel bad about social media taking away my valuable time, but using social media as a tool for inspiration is helping me grow as an educator.
One more place for your PLN (Personal Learning Network) is Facebook. Educators gather in groups such as Google for Education, Seesaw, certain grade level or teaching subject-related groups e.g. “Teacher Teaching with Tech”
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
This one is one of my favorite parts of the COETAIL course 🙂 I have to admit that in many cases I feel like an introvert when I have to speak out in front of an audience. Especially adults. It makes me feel vulnerable. This is a completely different experience from the one that we all get while teaching a group of students in the classroom. This is one of the reasons why I am at COETAIL. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone with every blog post as well as every comment on other COETAIL’ers posts. I love receiving meaningful comments on my blog posts because they very often contain advice and even more – relevant and valuable resources. I’ve received some really great resources from other COEATAIL’ers that I am successfully using a lot daily. Feedback is always important. This is one of the accelerators that move us towards higher achievement and inspiration.
I wonder how many people around the world begin looking for inspiration in TEDtalks? I do that! This is one of the best places of inspiration, where people share unbelievable stories of their lives. People, who very often go out of their comfort zone, do something unusual and come up with the best life experience that very often become powerful inspiration for others. I would like to share one of my favorite inspirational TED talks – The first 20 hours — how to learn anything by Josh Kaufman. Can you imagine how much we can learn in such a short period of time and share with our students and even more – inspire them to accept similar challenges?
Spring is approaching here in Lithuania and we get more and more sunshine, which is a great inspiration to go outside. I am going to use this opportunity and go for a nice walk outside, smell the spring air and get my inspiration for the next post.