Sunday, March 8, 2015

Teachers - You Must Share to Learn and Grow

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”Mahatma Gandhi

I love being a teacher because of the constant need change. There is something new every year, every month, every week and every day. Yes this can be stressful, difficult, time consuming, but it is never dull. I always tell anyone who will listen that if I ever start to believe I am good enough, I will quit teaching. While perfection may be out of reach, it is a great goal.


There are 2 things that have changed my teaching and learning in the last 5 years than anything I've ever done connected to being a teacher. I've shifted from a teacher centered content delivery machine to a learner centered facilitator of learning and student choice. I thought I was good at what I was doing before and maybe I was, but I am better at what I am doing now. I owe this fundamental shift in my teaching philosophy to both face to face interactions and my online social network, including:

I tried an experiment a few weeks ago with the teachers in my building. My idea was to engage them in digital Personal Learning Networks. Our building is full of incredible educators who share incredible things in our established Personal Learning Communities. Many teacher present and share what they now at local and national conferences. The only area where I don't see extensive engagement is online. I wanted to see if I could change this, so I created the PLN Challenge.

The PLN challenge seemed like a great idea, but it was complete and utter failure. Two teachers in a building of 300 staff engaged and tweeted to our district hashtag: #iplearns. Reflecting back, I think I failed in the delivery of the challenge. I believed that sharing the challenge through our Department Chairs and ILT would be enough to get the ball rolling. I did not take an active role encouraging teachers to participate. I did not help teachers who might be new to Twitter. I did not do enough to convince teachers how powerful a personal learning network could be.


We learn from failure, and in the future I will approach encouraging teachers in a more active way. I'm still thinking about how to best accomplish this, but digital PLNs are too powerful of a learning tool to ignore. I plan to take what I learn from this first attempt and turn it into something better.


How do you promote / share the power of Personal Learning Networks? 


A few PLN resources: