From Dinosaur to Avatar — The Never-Ending Process of Learning and Growing as a Teacher
In the professional world, ongoing learning is not something that you do in order to get a job and then proceed to do what you learned for years on end. Similarly, in the teaching profession, teachers cannot stagnate or remain doing the same things that may have worked 10 or 20 years ago.
A teacher is in the business of shaping every student’s potential for learning and growing for the better or worse. This fact is often lost to many because it is not completely obvious until a student has grown and is looking to join the workforce. It is the duty of us all that are in education as teachers, administrators and even the private sector to evolve and continue to learn in support of helping students reach their full potential.
In this world which students are inheriting, information grows exponentially every day. Today’s students are active participants in an ever-expanding network of learning environments. They must learn to be knowledge navigators, seeking and finding information from multiple sources, evaluating it, making sense of it, and understanding how to collaborate with their peers to turn information into knowledge, and knowledge into action. We educators need to produce thinkers and innovators. Students that are able to adapt to any changes or developments that the future may hold.
What does this mean for our teachers? Are our teachers ready and feel prepared to help meet this challenge?
This means educators need to constantly be learning, adapting, creating, communicating with colleagues, modeling for their students’ collaborative learning techniques, demonstrating 21st Century competencies and working with accomplished experts in their field.
Educators must be treated as a critical profession whose role it is to help mold generations to come. There should be no question about providing the necessary resources and time for professional development opportunities.
Yet in many cases, today’s teachers work alone – they spend an average of 93 percent of their time in school working in isolation, and they continue to work alone during outside of school settings as they prepare and grade their students’ assignments. Their day-to-day work is disconnected from the efforts of the colleagues, and their respective professional development is often fragmented or disconnected from the practical approach that will help their students.
This fragmentation prevents any substantial education reform from gaining traction because teachers are not given the time or support they need to collectively build a coherent body of working knowledge and practice to help their students improve and achieve better results.
Today’s teachers are eager to work, learn and make a difference in their classroom through the growing resources available to them online. Faced with waiting until professional development opportunities based on their area of need and/or interest might be made available within their school site versus now finding it readily available online. Faced with this choice between professional development methods of the last century or the online 21st Century approach, more teachers are voting to join the online self-paced, personalized, 24/7, and 365 days a year virtual world.
Within this online world, teachers have the opportunity to access real-world experts, fresh content, job-embedded learning, opportunities to work in educator cohort groups, share information and experiences.
For example, Teach n’ Kids Learn (TKL) a leading provider of online courses can offer educators a multitude of online comprehensive courses which are available on any device having access to the internet. The course can range from helping teachers to identify and challenge gifted students, finding strategies which will create a Blended Learning Environment, help to guide girls through Relational Aggression (Anti-Bullying), help student that are struggling to read, as well as focusing on strengthening all of the core content areas. Just take a look at the kinds of learning opportunities that are now available for teachers online at an affordable price.
These new online learning opportunities are not going away. In fact, they are getting bigger and better each and every day. As more teachers are provided with these online opportunities to expand their own professional expertise, they will leave behind the days of the dinosaurs and become the avatars who will bridge today’s learner with their career choices of tomorrow.