How do I become a better teacher?
When I was a competitive white-water slalom Kayaker I realised that my weakness was in reverse gates so I paddled backwards for a whole month. When I started my teaching career I realised that while I was comfortable in front of a class, in front of my peers was a different story. I chose to speak at every opportunity. By working on my weaknesses I was able to improve my performance.
So how do I become a better teacher? First, why become a better teacher, and should we become better teachers.
The Why: If you are not improving your practice you are going backwards because everyone else is improving. I also find it boring if you just keep doing the same thing. I am sure that the learners pick up on this. We need to be enthusiastic about what we do to ensure the students are caught up in the passion of the teacher for their subject.
The should: we owe it to our students to be the best that we can be. Another reason is that we should role model what it is to be a learner.
It is also important to understand your own drivers. My parents were farmers with an innovative attitude and an expectation that things were done to the best of their ability. As a sportsperson, excellence is something that is ingrained in the psychic. Keeping a training journal was also an important aspect of identifying patterns and learning from them.
A reflective journal has been, and remains, a central companion in my learning journey. It is a place to log my professional learning and a place to explore my thoughts. It is my thoughts that now come from a wider range of sources. On-line forums such as the VLN and Google groups meet my need for specialist information. Twitter is the number one source of my PLN. It is a tailor made solution to meet my needs. My Twitter list is titled ‘The people who inspire me’ These are the people that I sponge good ideas from. If I have an idea or are looking for a resource my PLN is very quick to respond. Twitter is positive, personalised, and productive – and addictive!
I improve my practice by using WORDS, Writing, Observing (listening), Reading, Drawing/designing, and Speaking
Other streams of learning include Mooc’s such as Coursera and Kahn Academy. Professional Learning also happens through the local and national subject association. I have been fortunate to work at a school that encourages learning and have been on a leadership development programme.
The Waikato branch of @eduignite meets once per term. It is an informal get together where anyone can come along and share their passion through 5 minute presentations.
Last year @keithbuntting set up a readings group where we met once per week to discuss a shared reading. This group quickly became a forum for futures thinking and inspired me to engage in a lot more reading.
Reading educational books is something that exposes me to new ideas as well as allow me to gain an understanding of the research that underpins current thinking. I have just finished Invent to Learn and are now about to start David Weinberger’s book ‘Too Big to Know’. Just because I read ‘Teach Like a Pirate’ does not mean that I believe in edutainment. However, I certainly liked the idea of being a pirate, a pioneer, in education.
Where to from here? – commonly called next steps in my learning. I recognise that reading and reflecting is a cornerstone of my practice. The way that I can leverage this is by discussing with others what I have learned. So it is with great anticipation that I look forward to the launch of #edubookchatNZ @edubookchatNZ at this weekend’s @edchatNZ conference. It is through dialogue with like-minded people that we can continue to grow as teachers.
Please direct any comments through my twitter connection @beechEdesignz