You’ve likely read about something recently that caught your eye.
Game-Based Learning. A new app. A comprehensive literacy strategy.
And that recognition was probably followed up by something else–a tweet with a link to a YouTube channel that blew you away. Or a quote about learning that’s causing you to rethink what you thought you knew about education. Maybe even an idea for project-based learning, a resource from a fantastic PD session, a learning framework from a book, or discovering a new community online.
While there are many new ways to learn in our digital age, encountering new ideas is different than internalizing that thinking and working to integrate it meaningfully. Below are some tips to help you make that transition–from seeing to using the best ideas you see on a daily basis.
1. Start Small
Don’t reinvent everything you do, even if that new “thing” you’ve found suggests to do exactly that. This needs to be sustainable. Start small, even if you’re starting small so that you can change everything.
2. Start Right Away
Within reason. Soon your perception of that new idea or resource will change–lose its shine, or become vague somehow. Start small, and start right away.
3. See Learning as a System
With new changes, adjustments need to be made. Your new assessment strategy, learning app, social media tool, or clever use of analogies will change the ecosystem of how you teach. Which is good. Go with it, not blindly, but with the understanding that if you’re not adapting, you’re likely withering.
Reflect on what you learned, reflect after further reading, reflect after discussing it with students or colleagues, then reflect after giving it a try. Consider using “How did it go, and how do you know?” to help frame that reflection, which forces you to both confront how you think things went, and then consider the “data” or evidence of that assessment (whether formal or informal).
Speaking of sharing it with colleagues, collaboration not only opens up new thinking to further thinking, revision, and extension (a colleague offering up an excellent literacy strategy to go with your new spin on blended learning, for example), but also “puts you on the hook” to see the idea through (unless you want to be known as the teacher who starts a million projects without seeing any through).
6. Listen to Students
They’ll let you know how you’re doing, and how any changes to your teaching are “going.” You just have to be willing to listen with an open mind.
7. Stay Curious
One change to your craft of teaching will undoubtedly lead to another. Stay curious, respond to new thinking with a critical eye and a heart full of possibility. Just as you encourage your own students to stay active, engaged, and connected, you too can keep reading about new ideas, connecting to new communities, participating in twitter chats and collegial conversation in order to reflect, and in the process continue to refine yourself professionally, making lasting change in the way you teach.
8. Celebrate Learning!
Because that is the reason we’re all here, yes?