Quality teachers have committed to life-long learning. They continually update their skills and knowledge to keep up with modern students and help them achieve in our evolving world.
One of the biggest recent adjustments to teaching has been online education. Teachers had to learn new ways to connect and interact with students who were no longer physically in a classroom. Methods of presenting materials also had to change to be effective online.
Another trend impacting education is the rise of AI. It is creating new and unique challenges in all areas of teaching, from assessing assignments to evaluating the trustworthiness of potential educational material.
We understand the challenges educational professionals face in trying to stay up-to-date in such a rapidly changing environment. Thus, we've outlined 10 ways to keep learning as a teacher to bring even greater success to the next generation.
Benefits of Continuous Learning
Continuous learning benefits schools, students, and teachers. Educators who expand their knowledge cultivate a forward-thinking and innovative culture in their workplace and the classroom. The new skills and ideas can bring fresh solutions to a school's challenges, igniting a more proactive attitude, and creating a better educational environment.
In addition, it equips teachers with skills and strategies that can be used in the classroom to raise student engagement and capitalize on their strengths. New knowledge and ideas can also be applied to expand lessons and develop dynamic projects and activities.
Lastly, teachers are making an investment in themselves. For instance, it helps teachers update or obtain professional licenses and certificates, providing marketable skills that can be added to their resume, resulting in expanded career options.
There is an abundance of skills, strategies, and knowledge out there, ready to be obtained. Teachers should concentrate on the areas that appeal to their interests, will meet their school's requirements, and apply to their particular students’ needs and challenges.
10 Ways to Continue Learning As a Teacher
Continuing learning has many forms. What works for one teacher is not necessarily the best way for another. It can be done inside a school and outside of it, including from an educator's home.
In addition, professional development courses often allow educators to earn certificates and badges that can be used to enhance a resume and go towards renewal of a teaching license.
Professional development comes in many forms, including online and in-person courses. Course offerings are vast, allowing teachers to select courses in areas that apply to their interests and the specific needs of their school and students. Examples of areas of improvement for teachers include:
Autism awareness and support
STEM or STEAM
IT and technology
AI in education
Gamification & game-based learning
2. Improve Your Innovation Skills
Creativity and coming up with fresh ideas require self-reflection. Examining where a teacher is stuck provides a roadmap of opportunities to improve innovation skills. There are many ways to begin making changes, including:
Altering the classroom layout.
Introducing more open-ended questions into lessons.
Allow students to take more risks and provide room for failure.
Experiment with a flipped classroom model.
Innovation skills take practice and are part of a process. It is better to start in one area and gradually expand as students adjust and a teacher's confidence improves.
3. Learn From Errors
Errors are opportunities for teachers to develop and grow. They provide teachers with insight and feedback on the value and implementation of various strategies, skills, and materials.
In addition, teachers display leadership when making mistakes in the classroom, owning up to them, and using them as a pathway for advancement. The behavior demonstrates to students that discovery and innovation are only obtainable if we are willing to risk failure.
4. Cultivate a Critical Mindset
Lifelong learning requires cultivating a critical mindset. In the classroom, teachers expose students to various viewpoints to ignite their imaginations and curiosity. We want students to be active learners, seeking out knowledge and not sitting and waiting to be told what to think.
But a critical mindset shouldn't stop once we become educators. Self-improvement for teachers can only occur if there is a willingness to be open to a diverse range of viewpoints while reflecting and engaging with them in a thoughtful way.
5. Apply Tech Solutions in Your Teaching Approach
Technology is rapidly changing, and it is one of the most crucial examples of areas that require continuous education to stay current. Students are not intimidated by these innovations. Instead, they find them exciting.
Teachers who are open to lifelong learning can also capture that excitement. Rather than fear change, keeping digital literacy up-to-date is an opportunity creator. Technology brings fresh ways to present material, interact with students, and streamline administrative and communication tasks.
6. Attend Webinars or Conferences
Workshops and conferences are excellent ways to acquire new knowledge while expanding your professional network. They expose teachers to new ideas from experts while gaining insights from other teachers. Topics are varied, including:
These events are also an excellent way for teachers who are feeling tired and frustrated to find empathy and refuel their passion. Colleagues and students will feel the positive impact of a teacher's renewed energy and enthusiasm.
7. Read Books About Areas You're Interested in Improving
Books are an excellent way to expand minds, gain new perspectives, and discover new knowledge. It is also an affordable method of self-improvement for teachers as books, including ebooks, can be borrowed free from libraries.
Audiobooks are an excellent option for those who struggle to carve out time to sit and read. These can be listened to while commuting, exercising, or cooking dinner.
8. Connect With Other Teachers
Connecting with other teachers is one of the best ways to keep learning as a teacher. Fellow educators are a living wealth of knowledge that can draw from personal experience to share ideas and strategies that have worked for them.
If you have difficulty connecting with teachers in person, find them through other channels. There are teacher-run podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels that provide tips, insights, and techniques that have helped them find success in the classroom and beyond.
9. Ask to Sit in on a Class
Observing other teachers in action can expose educators to many different strategies, styles of instruction, and techniques. Often, the easiest way to gain this insight is by asking colleagues if you can sit in their classes. But also try to find ways to observe teachers in other schools. The greater the diversity, the more ideas you'll glean.
10. Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is an excellent way to obtain support, guidance, and feedback. Whether formal or informal, mentorship provides a personalized growth experience that can expand your knowledge, boost your problem-solving skills, and improve your implementation of existing techniques and strategies.
Mentors are also an excellent source of advice when navigating:
Continuous Learning Areas for Teachers
All educators have areas they can improve. The best teachers know their weaknesses and seek professional development courses and other learning opportunities to strengthen these areas. One of the advantages of professional development is that many of these courses can be found online, making them accessible to teachers with hectic schedules.
Technology and Apps Usage in Education
Preparing students for the future requires keeping them up-to-date with technology and integrating it into teaching. Otherwise, schools and educators risk producing students that are unprepared for the technological demands of universities and the modern workforce.
Professional development courses can bring teachers up-to-date on using digital resources, such as apps, in an age-appropriate way to enhance lessons and discovery.
Pedagogical learning requires teachers to stay relevant. New teaching strategies and techniques emerge the more we discover how students learn. Professional development classes keep teachers up-to-date with the latest information so they can use the most effective methods of meeting the learning needs of their students.
Distance learning requires training in specialized teaching methods. What works in an in-person classroom isn't always effective or engaging when online. Professional development courses provide tips, strategies, techniques, and digital resources that specifically apply to distance learning.
Students acquire more knowledge by being active learners than passive ones. Professional development courses can help teachers spark their students' interest, cultivating curiosity and motivation. The greater the student involvement, the more active students are in their education.
There are many ways to foster student engagement, including:
Asking open-ended questions
Teachers must communicate effectively with students, colleagues, parents, guardians, and community members. Effective communication requires numerous strategies. For instance, when communicating with parents, a teacher might need to use a combination of an app, blog, and newsletter.
In addition, communication requires mastering certain skills, such as:
Using concise language
Body language, including eye contact
Teachers must utilize their leadership skills when in the classroom, collaborating with colleagues, communicating with parents and guardians, and interacting with the community.
In the classroom, educators with strong leadership are more inspiring and create a more positive learning environment for their students.
Teachers with leadership skills are an asset to their schools. They can observe and determine what needs to be changed, research potential solutions, facilitate implementation, evaluate results, and adjust as necessary.
Adherence to Grading Standards and Protocols
State and federal legislators are routinely changing grading standards and protocols. Professional development allows teachers to current with the latest methods to ensure their students are not being left behind.
Classroom assessment is an excellent way for a teacher to understand where their students are in their learning and development. There are various techniques and strategies to best put classroom assessment into practice. However, their effectiveness is enhanced by acquiring better knowledge of child development and improving observation skills.
How to Start with Continuous Learning As a Teacher
Continuous learning begins with a desire to grow as a teacher and raise your students' success. Educators should start exploring the suggestions we have listed above or using other ideas. Best results are achieved by using a combination of continuous learning pathways, such as reading, taking professional development courses, and being guided by a mentor.
School districts committed to excellence in their teachers and students should also provide a supportive learning environment for their educators' continuous learning. Support can come in the form of providing time, resources, materials, and funding.
Effective steps for teachers to facilitate the learning process include:
Set SMART goals. Draw up a list of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals.
Create a plan. Decide how you'll meet those goals. Online courses? Webinars? An audiobook subscription?
Allocate time for learning. You can never reach goals scheduled for “later.” Instead, you have to carve specific spaces within your calendar to do your continuing learning.
Evaluate your knowledge or skills. Keep a record of your progress to decide if you need more study in a particular area or if it is time to advance.
Apply them in the classroom. No amount of research, courses, and coaching can replace trying to put theories and knowledge into practice. Don't expect it to go smoothly the first time. Only by making mistakes can you amend and adjust. Eventually, you will get it right.
Keep Learning to Teach Better
Teachers must be role models for their students, including demonstrating that learning is an ongoing process. Continuous learning also equips teachers to be better educators, expanding their career prospects while elevating their students in the classroom.
There are many ways to keep learning as a teacher, and it's essential to find formats that work for your personality, comply with your school's policies, and work within your schedule and budget. It's best to find a few continuous learning strategies to ensure you meet the needs of your students, school, and personal goals.
SimpleK12 offers an extensive educational library of professional development courses, webinars, online workshops, and other professional development opportunities designed by teachers for teachers. They allow educators to learn at their own pace and select the courses that best suit their interests and needs while earning certificates to enhance their careers.
SimpleK12 is affordable and accessible, offering a range of resources and services. What are you waiting for? Give your career a boost by enhancing your skills and knowledge today.
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