Monday, January 25, 2010

Lifelong Learners - Are you one?

This is a common term tossed about in education. You see it in vision statements, read articles that mention it, and teachers say they want their students to be lifelong learners. What does this mean? Well, I think it means you are willing to continue to learn through-out your life. Whether it is school work, new teaching methods, or revised and renamed teaching methods, new techniques for business, interpersonal relationships, work environments, hobby information, health, or computer updates, or just about anything else. Data/facts/information has doubled, doubled, and doubled, and continues to at an amazing rate. We now know we can’t memorize or learn it all, but can learn to search for the information we need. Still, we need to analyze it and put it to use. Whether it is health information on lowering your cholesterol without drugs, or learning to do your job in a new way; it comes down to whether or not you like to learn new things. Attitude plays a big part.

Many people feel confident that they do a good job at work. Sometimes the question arises, “Why should I learn to do it differently when my way works so well?” This is a hurdle for people to overcome. Attitude is important here and can make such a big difference in success. Teachers who have taught in specific ways for several years find comfort in that routine, knowing that it works. Just as companies and assembly lines change their procedures and techniques, so must education. One big question is why do we test students like was done in the 19th century when we live in the 21st century? But that is a question left for another day.

These thoughts come from a person who loves to learn new things –- finds it intriguing and interesting. Back to the teacher who doesn’t want to learn technology, drags his/her feet in using technology – this teacher is the model for not being a lifelong learner. When we say one thing and do another, children and students see that. We need to remember that we don’t know it all and remember that facilitating instruction is a good method for teaching – not the “sage on the stage” that students quickly tune out. Sometimes this attitude can come from administrators who do not like change or technology.

We are very fortunate at our school to have an administration that enjoys using technology and encourages our staff to learn and offers opportunities in safe and comfortable ways. We need to be lifelong learners to function at our best for our students. For ourselves. What new things have you researched or learned recently?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not High Tech, but Touches the Heart and Senses

Cotton, the therapy dog, visits our school several times a month.  He loves to listen to children read.  Students leave their classroom in small groups and take turns reading their favorite book to Cotton.  He looks at the child who is reading and wags his tail, showing comfort and approval.

The children are encouraged in their reading and happy to read daily so they can read to Cotton the next time he visits.

The NY Times has an article about research on pets and the effect on humans today (Jan. 17).  There hasn't been much research over the years.  In 1987, a NIH study suggested more study on the effect of pets on health and child development.  With a background in child development, dog rescue, raising children with pets, teaching a regular classroom, I'm thrilled  to hear about this research.  Children should have fun and loving approval while learning at home and school.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Traveling Through Twitter

One of the unusual aspects to twitter, for someone like me, who works in a job with no travel (teacher), I find the network of people who use twitter broadening.  I love to travel and bring back those experiences for my students, but this is not something that happens often.  I spend all of my county supplement on my classroom and there is just not that money or time to travel - I dream of traveling when I retire, but that would be so different, no students to return to to share.  The web has brought the world to my home and classroom, which is great!  Twitter has brought the personal touch to these experiences with contacts - pictures and short bio's of twitterers - which brings faces, personal contact to this network of educators who love to learn and to share.  I love the ideas and find comfort in other professionals who want the best for their students and continually strive to improve.  Folks who are not satisfied with the status quo and want to get better every day.  I can spend time checking the ed tweets, clicking on the urls's and adding them to my delicious bookmarks to share with the staff at my school.  It is amazing how teacher's love to share good ideas and that is wonderful for our students. This aspect was surprising to me, but as helpful as the ed chats and other web opportunities.  Just one more tool to help me keep updated.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

EdTech 365/2010

OK, I've joined the crowd of folks who are blog posting pictures every day this year; my focus is on our new building which we will move into during the end of March.  The new building, and older section, will all be outfitted with state of the art technology in each classroom - hallelujah!  With so many changes, physically in the building, there will be lots to photograph.  Our teachers and students doing new things, learning new ways to instruct and learn.  This is so exciting!  Heard about this from langwitches on twitter.  I'm posting these pics on my flickr account in a set called EdTech_365/2010 and at mcdermon.