Educators know the importance of continuing their learning. We attend staff development training, conferences and even follow other educators on Twitter in efforts to stay fresh and relevant in this changing world. I mean, we are educators after all! We value education. And we value learning. We want to be the best for the students and teachers that we influence and teach with.
But in all of our efforts, are we truly learning new ideas or are we just rehashing the same ideas and strategies in a different language, rockstars, pirates, etc… Am I pushing it here?
I know this might be kicking over a sacred cow for some of you, but we also really need to stop ONLY reading ASCD books too! I’m not saying they are bad and to completely stop. But they shouldn’t be the only ideas that we are placing inside of us. It’s like the choir preaching to the choir!
What we need are fresh ideas! We need the ability to take something outside of education and apply it to our educational setting. I mean…we are educators. We should be able to compare and contrast ideas that are out there and apply them to our specific situation.
We’re all very busy. We have lives. So what are some ways that we can do this…put in some fresh ideas, different points of view and perspectives into our lives without taking a sabbatical every week?
Three Ways to Put New Ideas Inside of You
Podcasts – The podcast industry has exploded! It is so easy for anyone to have a podcast now. That’s good and bad. This means that any Joe Blow is going to produce content…and it will be bad…like listening to the teacher from Farris Bueller’s Day Off, “Bueller?, Bueller?, Bueller?” You’ll want to rip the ear plugs out from your ears. But, this also means that others who have great ideas, who didn’t have the means to produce podcasts in the past, can now do so! And many of them have great ideas!
When do you have the time to listen to podcasts? Do you workout? Or do you commute to work? Do you do meaningless work (yard work, clean the house, etc…) that doesn’t require thinking and will allow you to listen for 30 minutes?
It’s so easy to listen to podcasts nowadays. In the past, you would have to sync up an iPod or mp3 player. It could take time! But now, it’s as simple as clicking the APP on your phone! The most widely used platform is Itunes. But, if you use an Android device, there are tons of APPS that make it easy. I use Pocket Casts. It costs $3.99 from the Google Play Store, but it is worth it! It will pick up wherever you leave off, even if you close the APP. There are also free APPS – CLICK HERE.
Audible – Don’t have time to sit and read a good book to put some great ideas in your head? Listen to it instead! Amazon’s Audible is a powerful APP that allows you to purchase audio books, download them to your phone and listen to them on the go. One of the features that I absolutely love about the APP is that it will pick up wherever you leave off, like Pocket Casts mentioned above. You don’t have to go search for the chapter or last second you listened.
One of the Audible books that I’m listening to right now is Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal. I actually learned about the book while listening to a leadership podcast. It is a great book! If I could get every superintendent and school administrator to sit down and listen to a book, it would be this one! It strategically lays out how important it is, in our current day and time, to start thinking differently. The military has to adapt or people die! I wish we had the same attitude in education!
Twitter – Yes, Twitter. We are all on Twitter! We do Twitter Chats, follow the most influential educators, hashtag #PLN and share out great content that we find. But what I’m suggesting is that you follow others, not in the field of education, that will challenge and stretch your thinking. Here’s a search to get you going – CLICK HERE!
A few years back, there was a time that I felt like I was just giving out so much at work (my campus) that I describe it as feeling “thin.” I was being stretched. Because I know enough about leadership development, I knew it was because I was putting so much out and not replacing it with anything new. That’s never healthy!
I started listening to podcasts, reading blogs and spent a little bit more time on Twitter clicking on great articles. The effect is that I started to feel energized. The reason? I started to put new ideas inside of me. These fresh ideas caused me to see my current situation in new ways. I understood how I could use these ideas in my current situation to better the work that I was doing and help the people I was influencing. Investing in myself paid off.
Take some time to invest in yourself! With the strategies above, it will be easy!