For those of us still on summer vacation, it should no doubt be a time for rest, relaxation, connecting with old friends and family, but most importantly, a chance to recharge our batteries in preparation for a new school year. For my southern hemishpere educator friends, you are halfway through your teaching year and are a month into a new term. Whether you are on extended summer break or have just gone back to school from your winter holiday, our paths continue to be sprinkled with opportunities to gain new insight, motivation and inspiration that can easily be missed if we shut ourselves completely down from being open to growth and learning during our time away from our students and colleagues. It’s this new growth and learning that can reveal itself in a multitude of ways when we least expect it.
As important as it is to shut off and completely remove ourselves from the busyness of our schools and, in general, from the demands that teaching places upon us for most of the year, there is no question that we have chosen a profession that needs us to be at our very best and to model what life long learning is all about.
Being motivated, inspired, and passionate about what we do is critially important, but it’s not enough as excellent teaching is also dependent upon having deep content knowledge within our subject areas. However, I would argue that before this happens, we need to sustain our levels of motivation and inspiration over the long haul in order to maximize the impact that we can have on students and to approach teaching and learning with the intensity and energy needed to bring on our A-games with more regularity.
I know many educators who always take time away from their summer or winter holidays to go to some type of professional training in order to deepen content knowledge in their areas of instruction. In fact, I’ve got quite a few friends from the US and other parts of the world that just attended three days of great learning and growth at the 2016 National PE Institute held in Asheville, North Carolina. Investing precious holiday time in professional training is a noble pursuit that is well worth the effort for sure.
However, if you cannot attend professional training during your summer and winter breaks, great learning opportunities still exist every day and are all around us. I’d like to share an excellent quote that I came across a few years back that has always stayed with me and speaks volumes about the importance of always remaining open to all of the opportunities that exist for growth and learning in our everyday lives.
The mind of any great educator I know refuses to stand still and rest. It pushes itself along this endless path of learning by seeking, even at the micro-level, new insight and inspiration on a daily basis. They steal ideas around them. They modify, tweak, and adapt these ideas BUT always give credit. Perhaps it is an inspiring YouTube video that serves to remind us about the importance of making a difference in the world. Other times it could be in the form of a newspaper article, a radio interview, inspiring podcast or the daily conversations that we have with friends, family or even strangers who enter are lives when we least expect it.
You just never know at what angle or entry point this new learning will take place in our lives. Remaining open to the many lessons that life can teach us about the beauty of the world and its people helps to put into perspective just how powerful a role we play in inspiring and motivated our students to find their purpose and drive to be lifelong learners themselves.
Deepening the content knowledge we possess within our subject areas is just one of the many important aspects of being the best educators that we can be.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”