One of the noblest jobs in the world is that of a teacher. We’re clearly not in the trade for the money. We’re there because we love teaching and we love the kids. Period. However, on the other side of things, I’ve been in the education field long enough to realize that a lot of others get stagnate, grow weary and even become bitter. What’s the secret behind highly motivated and successful educators?
Highly motivated and successful teachers:
1. Never shut down the student inside them.
The minute we stop learning, we begin dying. Never stop learning. Even if you think you’ve already earned a doctorate in your field, there’s always something to learn. This is particularly true with teachers that have been around for quite some time. If you’ve lost your appetite for learning and for doing things better and differently, chances are boredom and monotony will invade your classroom and will kill the learning process. In other words, as a teacher I need to model and foster teachability which, leadership expert John Maxwell defines as: “the desire to listen, learn, and apply.”
2. Embrace technology and are technology-driven.
Technology was designed for teachers, not teachers for technology. In other words, let technology serve its purpose of facilitating some the chores we have as teachers. I like the way Steve Wheeler puts it in his blog: “Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who don’t.” Classroom management, content creation and learning-management tools are just a few examples of what technology can do for you. Google Apps for Education is a great suite of free applications that could make not only your life but also your students’ lives a lot easier. Free learning-management systems such as Schoology or Edmodo could also be of great value when it comes to combining assignments, assessments, grades and communication between and among teachers, students and parents. When it comes to technology, teachers should not fear it but just try to understand it and make it their ally.
3. Redefine professional development.
Stretching your concept of professional development will make your educational ROI skyrocket. If you are bound to the traditional concept of professional development being some kind of training provided solely by administrators at school or at large national/international events, you’re missing the fun part! Professional development is an active, dynamic process that can take place anywhere, anytime through the Internet. With the Internet, we are no longer bound to four walls and a guest speaker in front of us to tell us what we should learn. In fact, the more actively you take part in designing your own PD, the more evident the results will be in your teaching practice. There are lots of places to draw inspiration from such as TED talks and on education sites like SmartBlog on Education, Edutopia or EdTech Magazine.
4. Expand their professional learning network (PLN) through Twitter.
I have to admit I’m fairly new to the whole Twitter experience, but I cannot overemphasize what a fortune lies between the tweets, retweets and mentions of hundreds of truly spearheading innovators in the education field. Following their work, their vision and their thoughts has proven to be equally as effective as attending an annual conference or sitting in a front-row seat at a keynote of an education guru.
5. Follow these amazing educators and chats on Twitter.
Twitter can easily be the ultimate scenario for professional development. These are some of the live weekly chats I’ve had the opportunity to get engaged in and that have proven to be of great value: #edchat (general, all things education chat), #ntchat (new teachers chat), and #caedchat (although it’s mainly for teachers in California, there’s gold in there!). And last but not least, I’d like to give a small and by-no-means exhaustive list to get you kick-started: @tomwhitby, @teachingwthsoul, @alicekeeler, @appeducationfox and @markwagner.
Isaac Pineda is a language arts and history teacher at Colegio Inglés, a private 1:1 school in Monterrey, Mexico. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and an advocate of technology in education. He also works as a speaker and consultant providing professional development for teachers and administrators at schools in Mexico and overseas. Visit his website. Read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @Kairosedtech.