Recently, while at the Microsoft Innovative Educator’s event in Redmond, I had the good fortune of spending a few days with teachers that love their jobs. These teachers, without exception, are those individuals who think outside the box, they think “what if” then go on to challenge themselves and their students to find the answer. They try new things and push limits; they have the courage to propose new ideas and the conviction to follow through. They teach with passion, inspiring their students and peers alike.
How do you develop into a passionate, innovative educator? Which workshops should you attend? What degree do you need to earn? How much time must you devote?
The answer is very personal. I can’t begin to map a generic route to success as a teacher/learner. What I do know is that surrounding yourself with passionate people is a great start. Enthusiasm is indeed contagious. Open your mind to new ideas. Embrace differences, listen to stories, share and learn with a group. Continue to reflect, evaluate and revise your teaching. Model the behavior you’d like to see in your students.
Use social media to stay in touch with other teachers. Develop a Twitter Personal Learning Network (PLN) and talk to people. Sometimes it’s that simple, a face-to-face conversation. Skype, Blackboard Collaborate and Google hangouts are great ways to connect face-to-face with educators all over the world.
Welcome the opportunity to learn from and with anyone. The point is not how you connect, but that you do connect. Often, it’s the moments when you step outside your comfort zone, outside a group of known individuals, that you learn the most.
Don’t wait for motivation, actively seek inspiration. Blogs like Anthony Salcito’s Daily Adventures blog can help start your day, not just with inspiration, but affirmation that the world is full of excellent teachers.
Post note: I was not one of the educators chosen to be a finalist at the US Forum. Was I disappointed? Well, an all expense paid trip to Prague would have been awesome. However, once I walked around the exhibition floor and really looked at the projects other educators had displayed, I knew I had to be honest with myself. I had work to do. I didn’t let myself get discouraged, rather I am more motivated than ever. Not only do I want to apply again, but I now have a new community of teachers to look to for inspiration, honest feedback and support.
To all the finalists at the 2012 US Forum, you rock! Your passion and enthusiasm came shinning through. Your students are blessed. Congratulations on well-deserved honors. I wish you all the best in Prague. It was a pleasure spending time with you and I hope you’ll stay in touch. I will be looking to you for inspiration. See you on the Partners in Learning Network.