What Happens When Teachers Grow?

I like to argue (let’s call it “debate”) and I like to learn.  Recently I was thinking about how I’ve grown and changed as an educator throughout my career and, thanks to the things I’ve learned along the way, realized that if time-travel was real then I would be able to have some very intense arguments with myself!  

There are topics in education that I’ve changed my opinion on, a full 180 degrees.  In other cases I’ve slightly modified and shifted my views based on things I’ve learned and experienced.  Also, along with my ever-evolving educational philosophies, there are a certain segment of my beliefs that have been strengthened by things I’ve learned.  Throughout my educational career I’ve taken the time to sit down and, literally, rewrite my educational philosophy five different times. It’s very interesting (to me anyway!) to see how my views have shifted over the years.  

I’m sure, if you’ve been teaching for more than a couple years, that you’re able to see changes in your own educational beliefs as well, they’re completely normal and (I would argue) expected.  As educators we are surely life-long learners; when we learn, we change. How has your educational philosophy changed throughout your career? This question should take some time for you to answer.  If you haven’t been sitting down to think about this regularly over the years, then you may not even be aware of how much your opinions have changed. Take some time to think about it…

Beyond nudging you to think about your educational philosophy and how it’s changed (a great practice in and of itself) I want to encourage you to think about why you’ve changed as well.  I can trace most of the changes in my educational philosophy to four different things (in alphabetical order): 

  1. Colleagues:  I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really wonderful educators tracing all the way back to my teacher training program.  Keeping an open mind, watching and listening, and having philosophical conversations with my colleagues has allowed me to constantly learn and adapt my educational practice over time.
  2. Experiences:  Living and traveling internationally has given me the chance to see many different views on all sorts of topics.  Not only have I seen education through many different lenses but I’ve also had the chance to learn about how cultural expectations, languages, and religious and political views can impact a person’s philosophy on education and life.  
  3. Further Education:  Whether masters courses, educational workshops, conferences, online courses, or in-school PD opportunities, I never pass up a chance to learn from someone new.  The experiences of others can be just as valuable as our own. By putting myself in a position to network and learn from others I know I’ve been able to grow considerably.
  4. Reading/Listening:  Teachers and educators have taken the internet by storm.  Between the amount of educational books available to be read (or listened to) on digital devices, the volumes of educational blogs, oodles of podcasts and information on social media platforms such as Twitter, there is literally too much to read and/or listen to.  Digging in and finding interesting and thought provoking educational material isn’t even difficult now days…honestly, if you’re not doing this yet, this should be the first thing you look to do! (Listening to educational podcasts would also be a GREAT way to improve English language skills!!)

From a great article I read a while ago called, Why The Best Teachers Change Their Minds:

“The best teachers change their mind because things themselves change. 21st century learning is, above all else, diverse, interdependent, and formless. Technology, culture, academic standards, assessment forms, and the cost–and format–of higher education all evolve endlessly.”

Of the four different things that have helped me grow so much as an educator the easiest and quickest way to have my thinking challenged is the last one, reading and listening online.  With that in mind I want to start sharing some interesting articles and blogs I’ve read recently. I’ll start this week with an Earth Day inspired set of great articles and videos.  I’m hoping that by having a look at some of the things I share over the next few weeks you’ll be inspired to dig a little deeper and find a way to improve your practice even more 🙂

 

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Earth Day: Ending Plastic Pollution

Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 2018 around the world…Earth:)

This year’s focus was on helping End Plastic Pollution.  For those of us who are educators this couldn’t be a more relevant topic; in our lifetimes the amount of plastic created and discarded has grown exponentially.  If we don’t educate our students (the next generations) about the dangers of this epidemic, then it’s very possible that the plastic waste in our world could choke the life out of this planet.  

I want to share some great resources for your (and your students’) learning.  Have a look at these and please find some inspiration to make steps toward, not only ending plastic pollution but also educating our students on how to create a greener lifestyle.

Inspiration:

Check out these videos to better understand what’s happening to our world.

Plastic Ocean (video)

What Really Happens to the Plastic You Throw Away (video)

 

IF They Can Do It, So Can You!

Individuals, corporations and governments all over the world are working to help solve the problem of plastic and pollution.  What are you doing to help?

How This Town Produces No Trash (video)

You Can Live Without Producing Trash (video)

Four Years of Trash:  One Jar (video)

Apple Says It’s Facilities Are Now Powered By 100 Percent Clean Energy

IKEA using mushrooms to create packaging for shipping

Plastic Waste Can Fix Our Roads (video)

An enzyme that eats plastic

Scientists Make Renewable Plastic From Carbon Dioxide and Plants

‘Zero Tolerance’ Plan for Plastic Pollution

 

Classroom Connections

These resources can help educators better engage their students in the fight against plastic and pollution.

Climate Education Toolkit

How Small Steps Can Create Outdoor Experiences in Schools

How Access to Nature During the School Year Can Help Students Thrive (in case you need more evidence for WHY!)

 

The Future?

One final idea about where education could go

Could Urban Farms Be the Preschools of the Future?