How do I learn best?

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things now that I’m back from 3 weeks away from my networked existence. I did have a few opportunities to dip into the pool, but they were very quick forays into the shallow end. No deep immersion. Have to jump back in without checking if the water is warm.

Part of the dive back in is getting myself immersed in the ning site that supports the Powerful Learning Practice cohort my school is part of. I feel remiss for not fulfilling my end of the deal, but it was just too hard trying to update the blog for parents with the little time for the internet that we had when we had retired to our rooms (or Starbucks during the day!).

One of the forum discussions has asked us to think back to our best and worst teachers and think about how we learn best. Here is the reply I posted;

My best teachers. Mr. Peterson, Mr. Maughan and Mrs. Underwood. All were chalk and talk teachers for the most part, but they took an interest in me and made me feel that my opinions were valued.

Worst Teachers. Can’t remember their names. They were paycheque teachers who didn’t care for my opinions and didn’t make me feel involved in the subject matter.

How do I learn best. Connection, connection, connection. For me, learning is about relationship building. If I feel that someone is interested in my thoughts and want to encourage me in my learning I will go the extra mile for them. That’s been my experience as a teacher also. I invest time in finding out about the kids I teach; I think it makes a difference. If they know that I care they will do more for me. I’m convinced of that.

How do I learn outside of school now? I take the initiative and search the web for answers. I use my connections, connections, connections. My friends in this online world are the best sharers I’ve ever met.

I liked reflecting on my learning experiences. I still think that taking an interest in the kids you teach is the most powerful thing you can do as a teacher. You don’t need technology to help you with that. You need an open personality and a desire to make a meaningful difference. What I find exciting about teaching now is that I know how to make more meaningful connections for my students with teachers and potentially other students, who have open personalities and a desire to make a meaningful difference. Opening my students minds to the world by connecting with people rather than words on a page is a pretty exciting possibility. This is all about human interaction.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “How do I learn best?

  1. As a teacher I don’t think that I am great at making connections with my students. Now that I think about it, that wasn’t what was most important to me as a student and a learner. It is something that I have been aware of and tried to improve. I wonder if you think that teenagers are even more in need of this personal connection because of their age. I think this is a double whammy to me. Some people are like you and need that personal connection and all of my students are teenagers who need that personal connection ;) Thanks for reminding me of this point. It renews my motivation to reach out to my kids and worry less about how many chapters we have to finish before the end of the marking period!

  2. jennylu

    Thanks Jennifer. It means a lot to me to have you reply and let me know that my words meant something to you. I do think that teenagers need you to be interested in them. They are at that stage in their lives where they need support and guidance and sometimes they are having difficulty communicating on the homefront. Because I am Head of Library I teach only one class, but that doesn’t mean I am not connected to many of the students in my school. In fact, I think I am connected to more students because I make a concerted effort to know many of them who pass through the library doors. It takes effort, but in my opinion, the rewards are great.

  3. Kim

    Hi Jenny

    Great to have you back!

    I agree with the need to make connections with our students. In my primary school LRC I see just over 500 students each week and I too make a real effort to get to know them……and it’s amazing the little personal connections you make with students over time.

    This year’s Grade 6s were in Prep when I began in the LRC and I have travelled with them over the past 7 years…I know many of their favourite footy teams, authors and singers; laughed at their jokes, comforted them when people or pets have died; survived camp with them; celebrated their sporting, dancing or musical triumphs; discovered their hobbies and talents; listened to family stories, friendship problems and more! I have been enriched by these personal connections and I hope that through taking a personal interest in these students it has informed my teaching and I have enhanced their learning in the LRC… I am going to really miss them…

  4. They just want to spend time with you as a person – and if you do that – you will soon be their tribal leader. I would attract the misfits and geek types, but thats nothing new. The other kids still notice, and what they see is that you are just a person. They know you have a job to do, but at the same time know that you are real. In PBL classrooms, it’s very obvious which teachers are seen as ‘okay’ and which are seen as ‘teachers’ … kids flock to those who engage with them at the human level, and simply ignore or tollerate the others.

    Now I’ve left the school, I miss my tribe.

  5. jennylu

    I would miss them too Dean if I had to leave them. At the last school I left, I shed tears with my students when I told them I was leaving. They were sad, but like any good tribe, they wished me well on my new venture. I’m sure you will be forming new tribal connections where you are now and will be able to share your experiences with us all.

  6. jennylu

    @kim. So glad you are still reading and commenting Kim. Nice to see you here again. Hope everything is going well with you.

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