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 13th, 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.

Please comment on specific conditions it would take for you to change the way you learn.

Cross-posted at http://brainvibeforeducators.blogspot.com

@DMS_Principal

7 Comments

  1. I started the same conversation on my blog the other day. I am coming at it from a bit of a different direction though. I am a teacher and something sparked an idea. One easy question; How do you learn something new? I want to gather as much information as possible. I am already finding some interesting results.
    If you would like to share how you learn I would appreciate the input. http://www.westis4me.com/learning-research-project/
    @west4me

    October 26, 2011
    • That happened to me- Twitter is my addition now. It takes me to blogs and pages with tons of feasible materials for my classes, discussions, reflections, ideas for using tech in the classroom, school in the future, and so much more.
      I basically read something that is new and I find more over wikipedia, then maps, or go to the website to try it out, talk to my family about it to listen to my voice summaryzing and valuing the new piece of knowledge.

      October 26, 2011
      • Thanks Esther for your comment. I like to stay current on the latest issues and trends in education and have always tried to avoid reading any articles older than 5 years. Since Twitter, everything I read has been published within 24 hours. Even when I read an article that is great but 2 or 3 months old, I feel embarrassed to tweet it out to my PLN! Isn’t that funny? The world’s information is more than doubling every two years, therefore, we must continuously rethink the way we learn.

        October 27, 2011
    • Thank you for the comment. I will definitely pass this along to my colleagues. I believe we can learn a lot from this intriguing question and I look forward to reading the conclusion to your research project. I believe curiosity to spark an interest, initiative to follow through, and much purposeful practice will play a big part in the way we learn something new. Please share your results!

      October 27, 2011
  2. Katelyn Callahan said:

    Hi, I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am taking a class called EDM310. This class has put me in conditions for new learning. I know that classes are suppose to broaden my learning, but this class is not only teaching me new content but also a new way of learning. It has been unlike any other class I have taken. I am using blogging as a essential way of learning, Twitter to connect to respected educators and gmail for so much more than email! I love your approach on learning and I like how you are not only concerned with the students at your school learning but also your educators. I think that one should never stop learning! Thank you for such an enlightening post!
    Katelyn

    October 31, 2011
    • Thank you Katelyn for your response. It is refreshing to read such a comment. Continue to rethink the way you learn throughout your life. Blogging and Twitter are currently outstanding tools, but who knows what the future will bring. Good luck in college and may your choice in career bring much happiness.

      “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

      October 31, 2011
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