One quality of a teacher now and for the future is that we must be extremely avid learners. Because the pace of change is so great, we must expect to constantly be learning new information, new technologies, new ideas, and new methods. This is a difficult shift. Teachers spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to plan lessons that will be engaging. It is an insanely complex task. It is a task that requires consideration of the needs and interests of many different humans (who are insanely complicated in themselves); knowledge of content; integration of the curriculum standards. In addition, the lessons change based on the daily needs of the students so it’s a dynamic process. There is no way that we can repurpose what we do from year to year. Of course, we don’t need to start from scratch every year but we have to be constantly revising our work. The flow of information is so great that it would not be ethical to simply repurpose material from one year to the next. Nor are the needs of learners going to be the same from year to year. When I did a quick search on this topic of information, I found this interesting graphic entitled Data Never Sleeps that illustrates this issue. Our current professional learning systems have not caught up with this need, so for now, we have to figure this out ourselves.
So what is the skill we should be teaching teachers?
Well, we should be teaching them to be constantly learning. We should be teaching them to organize information and ideas. As teachers, we should expect to be learning when we are at home, on vacation, and daily from our students (more on work-life balance next time). We can no longer control where new learning is going to come from. It is no longer relegated to the classroom or a textbook. Since I graduated high school in 1990, I know that this is something I struggle with everyday. Sometimes I am reading through Facebook and see new posts with interesting information or something I’d like to come back to and I need a system for doing that. Even more frequently, I come up with ideas that I want to develop while I’m driving. I need a system for coming back to these ideas. Being an avid learner is one skill and then skill number two is developing systems for applying new information in an efficient way. So the disposition teachers need is to be avid learners. We need to be okay with the fact that information is going to come unpredictably. And the skill we need to build is how to organize and use this information. People are using apps, hashtags, and a slew of other methods. I find that I am frequently synthesizing information which then becomes a creative idea and because I don’t have a system to follow through with ideas, they sometimes go by the wayside. I have been designing a physical planner to help me more effectively use information that leads to creative ideas. What methods are people using to manage all this information and constant generation of ideas?