Put New Learning to Use
We expect students to do it instantaneously when we use the workshop model.
"Here kids, I'm going to teach you a 5-7 minute mini-lesson and then you'll spend the rest of the period practicing the new skill."
Why shouldn't we hold ourselves to the same standard?
Some of us have weekly professional learning at school, sprinkled in with conferences and conventions and let's not forget Twitter chats happening all the time.
But all that learning means nothing if we don't do anything with it while it's still fresh. As a matter of fact, we're more likely to make it a part of our practice if we give it a try as soon as possible.
So why not test drive the new techniques or technologies in the classroom the next day?
No time like the present.
If we all take the opportunity to throw out the what-ifs or I can'ts, it is undeniable that the risks we will take will improve the learning environment for our students.
Maybe not in the first try, but almost certainly over time, our own practice of trying out new things will have a positive impact on our community; if we expect students to internalize this practice, then we must model the behavior or we cannot demand it.
Students can see right through, "do as I say, not as I do."
Here are some ways to put new learning into action immediately:
Be flexible. Although you may have already had a lesson planned, how can you tweak it to include the new technique or technology? Planning is meant to be adjusted.
Be open. None of us are perfect, so keep an open mind when learning new techniques, technology or content. You never know when what you learn will be a game-changer. (I learned about Twitter through a PD with Alan November and signed up on the spot. It didn't work out right away, but I did try. It wasn't until I went back to Twitter almost a year later that it stuck.)
Be imaginative. How can this new information transform learning in your space for any or all students? As cliche as it is, think outside the box and consider the learning experience for all children in your room.
Be innovative. Take what you were already planning to do and share the new ideas with students and allow them to problem-solve with you using the information or technology.
Be collaborative. Work with other teachers who may already use the technique; ask them for feedback or suggestions. Invite them in to watch and then problem-solve after.
Be fearless. Don't worry about the outcome of the lesson, just take the risk and see what happens. Be observant of the room when you take the risk.
Be reflective. Make sure to consider what actually went down honestly. What worked well? What needs improvement? How would you do it differently next time? Are you going to try again?
Be patient. Nothing happens immediately, so go easy on yourself if it doesn't go perfectly for you or for the students. You do no one any favors by abandoning a good idea without allowing it the proper amount of tries to really work well.
Learning is fun and when we take in something worthwhile, we should share that learning with our students and colleagues.
What's the most recent "good thing" you learned and made a part of your practice? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog Work in Progress in November of 2014