Life Long Learning Tips for Teachers

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do you ever find yourself thinking about what has to be done tomorrow instead of thinking about the present? Try not to practice this way of thinking because if you’re so worried about the end product, you’ll never be able to appreciate how you got there. Embracing the journey will not only teach you vital lessons, it will make you a stronger and more appreciative person.

Remember that learning is not always linear. Just because you were taught a certain way to learn or a majority of your peers learn a specific way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way for YOU to learn. Take a look at Open Education Database’s article on better and more fruitful ways of learning.

Why finish just for the sake of finishing when there is room for improvement? Nothing can ever be perfect so always strive to improve on any project even when you may think that you’re finished. This type of endurance will not only be noticed by your employer, but it will also be seen through the quality of work you produce.

Welcome the rabbit trails—there are so many twists and turns on the journey you are about to embark on. Try not to be afraid of the educational opportunities that you are available to you or any of the barriers that may come along the way because anything easily gained is probably not worth it. Take a look at the certificates ACE provides as you educate yourself along this journey; they may give you an idea of what to pursue next.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Make a small amount of progress each day—you don’t have to learn everything in one weekend! Also, don’t be too hard on yourself for not improving as fast as you would like to. Remember that real growth happens by making small steps each day over a long period of time. It can be said that the most talented and notable teachers weren’t created in one day, so learn more about how successful teachers and ACE alumni got to where they are today.

Next, practice. Journalist and writer Malcom Gladwell reports in Outliers that most professionals require 10,000 hours of practice in order to be truly talented in their field of work.

Take your time, and try not to rush. Rushing results in mistakes you would never make on a normal basis. Also, taking your time can result in finding problems in a project or discovering new solutions you would have never been able to grasp while rushing.

Finally, reward yourself when you hit milestones. Working towards a goal, reaching it, and rewarding yourself will only make you want to get that same good feeling of accomplishment again, so don’t be afraid. Treat yourself to your favorite movie, store, or whatever makes you happy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Have you ever spent long hours of staring at a project, or have you been bombarded by external distractions? Sometimes you need to focus on something else in order to come back to your project with a better mindset. Learn how to put away the distractions in order to get to an acceptable place.

Effectively control your focus and embrace the white space by…

  • Removing tech devices periodically to refresh your mind.
  • Giving yourself a chance to relax after effective progress.
  • Allowing yourself moments of unbroken concentration so that you can find your flow.
  • Taking a short break—when you have trouble solving a problem, a short break can give you a fresher perspective. Remember to try to distract yourself with something that is educational, that way it won’t be as hard to focus on what you need to return to.
  • ACE’s teacher blog website is a great source to read when taking a break.
  • Getting a blank sheet of paper and giving yourself permission to write down all the ideas cluttering your mind—a blank sheet of paper has so many possibilities for great ideas, and writing all of them down can help you identify what is most important.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Get more organized when it comes to completing your goals and use your resources to become more informed about what you are interested in. Below are several great tech tools that can help you become more organized and learn more about the subjects that are important to you:

  • Google Reader—aggregate important blogs into one area.
  • Pinterest—pin articles to read later.
  • Online forums—follow these to learn about other problems and questions other people may have. You could even find your answer from someone who lives across the world!
  • Applications—use online apps to remove distractions and become more productive.
  • Calendar—using a calendar that is installed in your computer, mobile device or even on your wall will help you to focus on what’s important.
  • Use online resources—ACE has a ton to choose from!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

“For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim too high and fail - it’s just the opposite - we aim too low and succeed.” –Ken Robinson

Have you ever gone throughout life having a passion just to be told that it is unattainable? It’s time to stop being content with a passionless life that you don’t enjoy because you are too afraid to make a decision that may end in failure. New York Times Best Selling Author, Ken Robinson’s, The Element is a great book to read when it comes to finding ways to enable ourselves to work in an element of passion and joy.

Here are a few ways that you can begin pursuing a life that you always have dreamed of living.

  • Allow yourself time to pursue areas you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe some of ACE’s summer offerings [] will give you an idea of an avenue to pursue!
  • Remember how learning and enthusiasm can transfer from one area to another.
  • Spend your down time learning and practicing what you love most.
  • Make it a goal not to complete a project just for the sake of completion. Learn how you can contribute your passion towards it and make it something enjoyable to complete.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is what teaches you lessons and enables you to come up with better strategies to pursue your goals.
  • Be open to constructive criticism. Allowing others to constructively critique your work and ideas will help you improve. Know the difference between genuine constructive criticism and negativity for personal reasons.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sharing your goals will not only make them more official but they will inform others that you are serious about them, therefore making it more likely for you to complete your goals. Here are some tips on how to share your goals effectively with others:

  • Tell your friends and family—allow them to hold you accountable.
  • Use your favorite social media network such as Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, etc. to keep a live report of your progress. Online interaction will only encourage you to reach your goals.
  • Create a goal board—this may appear to be juvenile at first, but creating a physical board you see everyday of your favorite quotes and pictures will remind you everyday what your hard work is for.
  • Encourage others to complete their goals—it will encourage you to follow through on your own advice as well.
  • Looking and listening to other people’s goals will encourage you to complete your own and may give you creative ideas to make the process a little easier.
  • Take a look at ACE’s teacher blog so you can hear from fellow teachers’ about their personal goals and experiences.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    “A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.” –W.H. Auden

    If you haven’t made the time to visit your reading list lately, now is a great time to start. You’ll never know the new things you’ll learn about yourself.

     Lifelong learners from heads of state and leaders of major companies to kindergarten teachers recognize the value of continual reading. Educators especially should set an example for their students by reading—reading usually makes you a better professional because you will always know the latest information about your subject.

    Journals, periodicals, and scholarly magazines related to your subject will give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about your specific field. Many of these sources can be found on Google Scholar, Worldcat, and even ACE’s Library.

    “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” – Maya Angelou

    Information takes on a whole new meaning and significance when it is presented in narrative form. Not only will reading nonfiction and fiction help you to encourage your students to read, it will result in their success in future educational endeavors. Read more on why daily reading is important for children on Great Schools’ Website.

    “Great literature teaches lessons…Great literature is an instructor to the young and a comfort to the bereaved.”- Abraham Lincoln
    Many proverbs and maxims of today’s leadership and self-help books are recycled ideas, so you can benefit from thousands of years of wisdom if you develop the patience for reading older texts. Read more on the importance of classic literature and how it can teach you vital lessons on Founders Classical Academy.

    “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”

    Take the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and how others have reached their goals.

    You can add your favorite blogs or inspirational ACE pins to a Google Reader or Pinterest account and stay current on a daily basis with what is happening in your field. The specificity that exists in various blogs are useful when looking for answers to specific questions only those in your field will know.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    How many of us have read a book at some point in our lives, then reread it and learned a TOTALLY different lesson? If you read something complex like Shakespeare as a high school student, odds are that you will have a very different view as an adult. Ask any English teacher—there is always something new to learn about your favorite work of literature. Take a look at ACE’s library and discover the new lessons you’ll learn from the text provided.

    If you have a passion you enjoyed as a child but it was buried by the more “realistic” ways to spend your time, now may be a great time to revisit it. As an adult, you will have new experiences that you will be able to integrate with your old experiences. Here are some ways you can make your “second look” a more useful one:

    • Take a moment to think about what has changed. Was it the subject itself, or have you grown as a person since then? A different perspective can sometimes prove to be more successful than your original work or it will reinforce why you were correct all along.
    • Revisit your passion at different times in your life.
    • Compare new lessons to original lessons you learned when you were first introduced to the material.
    • List all ideas and possibilities after you take your second look. Second looks most often reveal new routes that are worth exploring.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Double the fun of learning by finding a partner. If you have trouble sticking to your learning goal, a friend can be a great motivator. Whether your friend is an expert or a fellow newbie, you can benefit by including others in your lifelong learning journey.

    Here are a few simple ways you can share your learning with a friend:

    • Meet for coffee and discuss a book you’re reading. Depending on the relationship you have, conversation could veer off onto a rabbit trail, so be prepared with a couple of key questions you’re curious about.
    • Take an ACE online course and discuss your progress via social media. If your friend happens to live 500 miles away, you can still learn together easily. For a fun afternoon project, you can visit a museum online for free and prepare to see it in person. Try these to get started:
    • MOMA
      Perot Museum of Nature and Sciences
      American Museum of Natural History
    • Take a field trip together. Visiting a venue with educational value can start a conversation about your learning goals. Sharing your goals with others will cause them to expect you to complete your goals.
    • Study or do homework with a partner, even if the courses are completely different! Sometimes when asking for advice on a project, a friend’s fresh perspective can often help you think of new solutions. The collaboration with your friend may often lead to something successful!
    • Join, share, or ask questions in an online community about subjects you are interested in or currently learning. Interacting with those who share the same passion for learning a certain subject will help to fuel your passion. Join or create a Google+ group relevant to your certain subject.

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Whether you use a small journal and write detailed notes by hand or sync your mobile device with your calendar and leave voice messages for yourself, try keeping notes of your progress.!

    First, set specific milestones and goals. Be realistic. As an example, you likely will not become fluent a foreign language in a matter of weeks, but you could set a goal to make a dinner reservation at a restaurant where you can practice your skills.

    Next, you might make plans for a trip to a foreign country, or set a specific goal to begin interacting more with native speakers. If you are learning Mandarin Chinese, you could begin volunteering with a Chinese Community Center.

    Also, journaling can be an efficient way to access your schema, or background knowledge, that you are bringing into the experience. Reflecting on what you already know and what you think will happen can help you be more aware of your learning.

    In addition to keeping you on track, writing your progress will help you to revel in your accomplishments. Just a few minutes of learning each day can add up to a lot!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Change and creativity happen when you combine two old ideas and create something new. That’s why it’s important to challenge yourself regularly. Many educators call this process assimilation or accommodation. Learning happens when we balance old information with new information to build a new understanding of the world. This happens throughout our lives if we continually encounter new information.

There are many ways you can experiment with new ideas. Try studying an area outside your comfort zone. If you’re right-brained, maybe it’s time to rediscover a more left-brained subject like physics or statistics without the pressure of testing.

Creative, right-brained educators may be surprised to learn how quantitative research can inform and reinvigorate their practice. Mathematicians and scientists can venture into poetry, music, and dramatic arts. You may discover that it’s not as bad as you imagined—and you may find something you missed the first time around.

Another way to challenge yourself is to bring your learning into a new environment. Do you spend a lot of time indoors? If you’re an artist, try sketching in a busy café or at a park bench. If you’re a scientist, leave the laboratory for a while to explore nature. If you work outdoors, try holing up in a library. Changing one factor like your environment can make a big difference.

Friday, February 1, 2013

If your interest is waning in a subject, you can recapture the passion you once had by viewing it through another person’s eyes.

Teachers have the unique advantage of teaching a new crop of students each year who always bring a slightly different take on content that they may have taught for years—that is, if they’re willing to appreciate their students’ perspective! If you attempt to teach someone else, odds are that you will learn as much as – if not more than – the person you are teaching. For example, kindergarten teachers gain a whole new appreciation for nature when they go outdoors with children. While adults overlook details like insects and birds, children are keenly attuned to dragonflies and wildflowers and want to explore every last corner of the playground. Children’s natural curiosity is infectious.

Another great way to recapture your love of a subject is to experience it at different times of day or by learning from an expert who is passionate about that particular area.

Even if you already have a master’s degree, you should consider taking a refresher course in a new, relevant area. American College of Education offers certificate programs that help educators sharpen their skills and delve into fascinating, rapidly changing topic like Digital Learning and Teaching. Programs that provide ample opportunities for discussion are key to expanding your understanding of a subject.

Learning from the perspectives of others—both as a student and as a teacher—will revitalize your passion and prompt new avenues to explore.

Friday, February 1, 2013

As most educators can tell you, becoming a lifelong learner requires you to form learning-friendly habits.

Whether you want to learn a new language or become a master of a particular craft, you need to make space for it in your life. By blocking off time in your schedule and committing yourself to learning for even just an hour a day or half a day per week, you’ll see significant progress after several weeks.

Start by making an appointment in your calendar for your own learning. Many of us are so busy with day-to-day lifethat we forget to schedule time for reading a new book, exploring a museum, or perfecting a cooking technique.

Think too about when you are most “switched on.” If you’re a morning person, make sure to schedule your learning time early in the day.

Make learning a priority in your life, and you will see results over time.