“Make a bullet list of what you believe regarding how you and others learn.”
1.) Learning is forever.
We don’t stop learning, from the day we are born until the day we die. As teachers, we are only a small element of this, but an important one nonetheless. Everybody remembers teachers from their school-days and beyond, for good or bad reasons. (I can remember the total cow of a teacher we had at primary school for our extension English classes. We used to wish we were bad at English so that we would not have to have that session with her!! The class was after break time and we would sit outside near the classroom, talking gloomily to one another and dreading the bell going. Conversely, I can remember, with great fondness, any number of inspirational teachers and tutors that I have had the joy of being taught by!) As teachers, this is worth remembering!!
2) Learning is power.
Learning empowers us, because through it we build up a tool kit that enables us to deal more effectively with what we encounter on the path of our life. As teachers, we should guide our students as they build up their tool kits in their own individual ways.
3) Learning is fun! (Except when it happens via cruel experiences!! 😉 )
Other than the above, learning is a satisfying way of interacting with the world around us and questioning these interactions, in order to increase our understanding. As teachers, we should encourage students to engage in these interactions and help them maximise what they gain from them.
4) Learning is alive.
There is no limit to how much we can learn. Knowledge and understanding are dynamic, there is always a new direction to be taken and explored, new things to be discovered. As teachers, we need to be dynamic too and stay open to continual learning, so that we can keep up with our students!
5) Learning is infinite ways of skinning a cat!
(Poor sod that it is… :-p)
There are so many ways in which people can, and do, learn. As teachers, we need to be aware of this and remain open to trying new ways of doing things as well as continually adapting and experimenting with the ways already familiar to us.
6) Learning is a buzz!
Hopefully everyone is familiar with the head-rush of achievement, satisfaction and pride that goes with learning. The “Eureka!” moment when you see something in a new light, the “I *can* do it!” when you master something you have been struggling with. As teachers, we should be creating an environment that opens up the opportunity to experience such moments to our students on a regular basis.
7) Learning is adaptation.
A bit like the car whose gear stick you learn to handle just *so*, in order to get it into second gear, learning is about recognising what works for you so that you can maximise your potential. As teachers, we need to help our students recognise how they learn, not only focus on what they learn.
8) Learning is a big question mark …?
Learning is seeing the world as a series of questions to explore rather than a series of answers to accept. Children are inquisitive by nature: as teachers we should nurture that inquisitiveness, so that, as the children who pass through our hands grow into teenagers and adults, their minds retain that ability to question the world around them, throwing new light on to it in the process.
9) Learning is a journey.
Sometimes we travel alone (inevitably getting our butts kicked by experience along the way!), sometimes we have a guide. This guide can be, for example, a parent, a friend or a teacher. As teachers, we need to be the sort of person that we ourselves would not mind sharing a journey with! If we are the sort of guide that we would avoid like the plague, then chances are, our students also will not want us in the car with them as they journey along a particular section of their road of life…
10) Learning is sharing.
Learning is sharing knowledge, opportunities, journeys, as well as a myriad of other things. Learning happens in interaction with other people and other things on our planet, a continual process of giving out and taking in. As teachers, we need to be empathic, able to share our students’ highs of achievement and lows of confusion and struggling. We need to learn from our students as well as share our knowledge with them. Remember the old adage, “when one teaches, two learn”…
“Think about how being part of online professional development has redefined the way you learn.”
I have only recently discovered the world of online professional development. Somebody recommended I use Twitter as a professional tool. Until that moment, I had avoided Twitter like the plague! (And still cringe at the thought of having it full of “friends” who tell me every time they brush their teeth, scratch their elbow and other such minutiae!) However, I have been absolutely blown away by what it has opened up to me in the few weeks that I have had it. I’ve read blogs, participated in discussions via #eltchat, interacted with other teachers world-wide, watched presentations, attempted to participate in a webinar (thwarted by my net connection!) and through it all opened up worlds of information for my brain to play with. This 30 Goals challenge is another result of signing up for Twitter. Through Twitter, I found @Vickylora’s blog, with some of her reflections on these goals in it, which inspired me to have a go myself. All this interaction with people and their thoughts has given me massive food for thought and broadened my contact with the world of EFL. I no longer feel stuck in a vacuum, cut off from everything outside of this little city where I will be for only a few weeks more.
Prior to discovering Twitter, and the wealth of sites it has led me to, my interactions were limited to my methodology books (which I have read and re-read, bringing new reflections to them each time) and English Teaching Professional magazine, for which I have a digital subscription. So being part of online professional development has redefined the way I learn because it has no less than opened up a whole new world of resources and people for me and my restless mind to interact with.
Isn’t learning fantastic?!