Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Helps Me Learn?

For the last three days, we have had professional development. Three days of professional development at the end of the school year. We said goodbye to our students on Friday, tried to relax over the weekend, and then returned to classrooms on Monday for our own learning.

In three days, I have attended workshops on new writing units, on how to develop specific traits of writing, of how to implement and assess our word study program, and on how to align IEPs with the Common Core. I have attended workshops on educational apps, specific electronic reading programs, Smartboard applications, and technology integration. I'm worried that I'm missing some. Since I presented at one of the workshops about productivity apps and Twitter, I also spent time studying and developing a cohesive presentation for attendees. Tomorrow, I will finish the year with conversations and meetings that focus on end of the year learning reflections.

If my brain were a muscle, it would need a massage.

Please don't hear that as a complaint, though, because as I sit in front of my laptop, I have so many ideas for blog posts that I'm not sure where to begin and I am really excited about all of them. I will definitely write more about the next few days, maybe even tonight, but I want to focus for a moment on a comment I heard a teacher say today during lunch.

"I understand how students must feel at the end of the day when they have sat and had information and learning coming at them all day," she said.

What a powerful reflection! Her comment made me really think about myself as a learner and I hope that I will remember some of my thoughts and realizations it inspired. Most of these thoughts aren't new realizations but I'm not sure that I have ever explicitly tried to write them down:

  • I need time to process. I need time to play with the information that has come my way and work it into my thinking via my own individualized learning trails and schema.
  • Agendas helped me a lot. I definitely felt more invested and engaged when I had a sense of what was coming next in the presentations. If there was a paper powerpoint to follow along, that was even better.
  • I tend to wiggle. When the workshops were longer than 45 minutes, I found myself changing positions,   stretching, doing unobtrusive (I hope) chair push-ups, and even getting up for a not-entirely-necessary bathroom trip or water break. These movements helped me pay better attention.
  • Multi-tasking sometimes focused me more. If I had my iPad or phone, I was still integrating information if I was checking email or even reading over Twitter feeds. When I write--and as I am writing this now-- I can not multi-task, but when I am in lectures, sometimes I feel like my brain needs the extra stimulation to focus more. 
  • Conversations and opportunities for collaboration are powerful learning tools for me. The side conversations were valuable for me as a learner and I hope not distracting to the presenters. For any presenter who is reading this, please know that there were many times when my conversations were the off-shoot of the inspiration or positive challenge to my thinking that you provided!
  • I completely appreciate time to unwind and gather my thoughts and I was really grateful that today's technology conference offered opportunities to reflect and regroup.
  • Laughter helped me learn. Learning is intense and finding humor relieved that intensity. Maybe the relief let me go back at the learning--I'm not sure how that works--but I definitely am remembering the learning that combined laughing as I sit here in front of this blog. 
I will revisit this post in the fall when students return to the classrooms and have information, routines, expectations, and lessons coming at them with full force--I'm actually putting this task on my calendar! I need to remember the feeling of having a brain so full that any additional information will come out my ears. I'm betting that students share many of my experiences from the last three days and I will work hard to remember how exhausting sitting and learning can be. 

No comments:

Post a Comment