In part I, I shared 6 ways a teacher can learn from and with others and here I’ll add the remaining 5 ways.
#7 Learn by organizing a study group. Teachers are usually social beings and love interacting with others. Sharing your interests with peers and forming a study group that meets and shares ideas and resources from time to time on a specific learning topic, it’s a very efficient method for professional learning. It always boosts your energy and motivation to learn something new and you can visibly see how the sum is bigger than the total of its parts. And you can always use blended learning (a mix of face to face and online interactions) to make the best of it.
#8 Learn by volunteering or taking a job that requires the performance you seek. The best way to learn something is by doing it. It’s true that teaching it’s a profession that takes a lot of responsibility and you cannot just do it without any previous knowledge and skills. But it’s also true that you can start small and then make it big. For example, I have friends working in the financial sector that started volunteering for NGOs developing educational programs for children facing various difficulties. They first organized simple entertainment activities with the kids based on their personal experiences (playing board games or social games), but then started reading or asking others about how they could facilitate the learning of these kids and had small wins along the way. Some of them later enrolled in teachers training programs and now they are professing this as their main job.
#9 Learn by preparing a public presentation. It doesn’t have to be a major presentation at first. It can only involve two or three close friends as audience and be followed by a Q&A session. This will make you prepare for this presentation, collect data, organize them in a comprehensive way and be ready to reply to any question the audience might ask you. And, most important, get feedback at the end and note the questions that put you in difficulty or made you wanna search for more information.
#10 Learn by teaching someone else. This might seem similar to the above one but it’s also referring to the concern of facilitating others learning. So, it is not just about the information you are preparing and delivering, it is also about understanding how this new knowledge could be transferred to others. For example, teaching some peers about how to facilitate a student to organize a personal learning environment (PLE) rises multiple questions about what is PLE, how does it work, how one could manage such a system and, moreover, how can a teacher could help his or her students learn about how to manage this.
#11 Learn by working cooperatively with others as a team. A school’s project it’s always challenging. The manager builds a team of teachers with different skills and interests, aiming for a common goal – build an afterschool program, let’s say. This is challenging in terms of harmonizing working and communication styles but also it’s a great learning resource for all the team and its individuals. Being in close interaction with your colleagues you can learn a lot from them – being that related to direct practice (a method, a tool, a specific resource) or attitude (valuing more friendship, humor or fairness, for example).
#12 Learn by competing with others. Even it might seems that collaboration it’s better than competition, this last one can also be efficient for learning if the stake and boundaries are well and consciously established by all the participants. For example, you can choose two teachers colleagues and propose them a challenge – that by the end of the semester you all must try and learn to use as many student engagement techniques as possible. You can set some quality standards and ways of gathering evidence and start the competition. I can be also fun and efficient. Just try it!
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