Still Learning

In case I have not made this abundantly clear yet, I love to learn! My teaching program instilled in me a sense of the importance of continuing education (or professional development). I absolutely agree good, quality, professional development workshops are invaluable. I hold a PhD in Science Education and I continue to seek out learning opportunities. Just this year I have participated in three separate workshops, and I love it.

This year brought new challenges to education. In response, I decided it would be worth my time and money to look for new approaches. The first PD I attended in August was specifically for high school science teachers. For two days, I listened and took notes as educators across the country shared best practices and resources for teaching science.

The next learning opportunity for me was focused on distance learning. This was a one-day workshop via Zoom working through The Distance Learning Playbook. We heard from the author, worked through examples, received resources, and I took PAGES of notes to share with my colleagues.

Before I share this week’s PD, let me write a little about my note-taking. I do not take pretty notes. I do not follow a specific process. I just write things down. I write what I want to remember or be able to come back to later. Several years ago, I attended a week-long Summer Ag Institute. It was AWESOME. When we arrived, we each received a small notebook and pen (among lots of other goodies including local blueberries and hazelnuts, yum!). I took that notebook and pen to every meeting, field trip, and lab throughout the week. One of the participants came up to me while we were at a spearmint field and said, “You really are taking notes in that thing, aren’t you?” He was puzzled as to why I would bother with note-taking. I responded in the affirmative and that was that. I suddenly felt very awkward and began to notice no one else was taking notes. This time, though, I did not let it change my course. I continued to take notes! I encourage you to do the same!

Back to this week – On Thursday, I attended (again via Zoom) a two-hour PD workshop on nature journaling. I have always been intrigued by this idea, and have tried to incorporate some aspects into my classes, but wanted more tools. The workshop leaders shared John Muir Laws books with us as we ventured on this quick journey. We learned about NGSS and SEL and how nature journaling connects to both. We also practiced the process. Our final task was to create an activity to use back in the classroom. We worked in breakout rooms and each room contributed an activity in a Google Slides. It was so helpful. Once the breakout rooms returned, we did a virtual gallery walk through the activities and had a chance to write comments on each activity. The feedback was so wonderful. I took away from this activity an understanding of the breadth of possibilities for this tool.

I encourage you to seek learning opportunities. I encourage you to seek these opportunities in order to fill your bucket a little. There are so many amazing ideas educators have to share. These experiences also offer connections to other teachers. We support each other and I need that support, especially right now. Did I make lifelong friendships in any of these examples? No. But, in the moments of the class I saw others. And as I reflect on those experience and the learning, I reminded I am not alone in this endeavor. As you read this, know that I am here, too. 🙂

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