Building a Community of Learners
Our ability to communicate and send, receive, and access information is the fastest and most efficient it has ever been in history. This fact makes it extremely important to have the skills to sift out the meaningful and good information and leave the not so good. For as teachers, we are tasked with both facilitating and encouraging young minds toward their own personal growth and also to future leadership in their communities, their province, and their country. Reasons like these are why it is important to gather integral people around you in a community of learners, whether physical or virtual. A community of leaners like this can be compared to filters that are all working together to help each other sift through the vast options and information in order to bring together the very best and most opportune lessons for their students and for themselves. The importance of getting and staying connected to other teachers and professionals who can both assist and critique my learning is essential to personal and professional growth.
Getting connected to a community of professional and experienced learners is vital to growth to my own person, to my own profession and also for my future students. At the beginning of ECS 210 I was not looking forward to creating a blog or signing up for Twitter or ‘getting connected’ virtually. I was comfortable with sending emails and using Facebook every couple of weeks. That was my way of staying connected. Looking back, I am realizing that the biggest reason why I was not looking forward to creating these online spaces was simply because I did not know how to. I felt comfortable where I was at and did not really want to change things. Thankfully the assignments presented to me this whole semester forced me to stretch my own learning and desires to create a blog, use Twitter and Facebook, and even become a member of LinkedIn. Now I wonder why I did not do this sooner. The perspectives and insights of many of my peers astounds me. Some of my favourites include “Some of the biggest lessons we learn as a student happen through experiences when we don’t realize we are learning.” This was tweeted by Kelly Chambers. He speaks to the hidden curriculum and the lived curriculum. The lived curriculum is something that really made sense to me. I had always though of curriculum in terms of school and in a classroom setting. However, curriculum can really be an anywhere, anytime experience. These young adults have so much to offer their future students and each other. This will only grow with every passing year.
The benefits of having other professionals to rely on and gain insight from is crucial to my growth as a teacher and future educator. There are many ways to convey the same information. That is really what has been happening since teachers began teaching, with a few exceptions. Math is still the same, writing and reading are still the same, but the way we teach has vastly changed and is ever changing and adapting. To have a community of professionals where I can learn new strategies and methods is invaluable. Especially an online community because these people are accessible anywhere on the planet at anytime. To learn and grow with these fantastic people, I am realizing, is a resource that is both important and unexpected. This resource is something that is developing and hopefully will continue to be over the coming years. It’s a wiki space where we, as scheduled 2016 graduates, can post our lesson plans and resource links to learn and grow from one another. This is a way to be both influenced by others learning as well as do some of the influencing as well.
From my teaching philosophy I write: “For many people, whether youth or adult, picking up where you left off can be a challenging task, especially when the book you are reading or the story you are writing is at an exciting, climactic section. Leaving that story until the next day can be very disappointing and distracting. However, when a teacher recognizes how interested a student is with the story they are reading and allows them to chose to work at the same station the subsequent day, it conveys the message of “I value you and your needs” in this space (Boushey and Moser. 2006. p.102). This is borrowed from the Daily Five approach but can be applicable in any circumstance when dealing with something of interest to your students. I want to message to be loud and clear in my classroom and nothing says this more, or in many cases less, than when the teacher gets involved in the lives and interests of their students. I love this example so much because at its core, it is about building a relationship with the students and conveying my care for them as people, not just students” (Wasyliw: 2014). This same attitude can be held with teachers as well as students. We are all people and as such need relationships to learn, to grow, and to enjoy life to it’s fullest.
Some of the best moments, or “AH HA” moments over the course of ECS 210 have come from Guest Lecturers and from online community learning. One example came during a lecture from Grant Urban. He had many excellent points to consider and glean wisdom from. His presentation was about narratives, stories, and our experiences that shape who we are. Our stories cannot be left out of the classroom for it is our life and the way we learn. If the traditional definition of classroom is challenged, the whole world and any situation can become a classroom in which to learn and grow. What will education look like in ten years? I do not know but I do know that I will be a part of it.