So often I hear from educators about their desire to deepen their own learning. They are strongly committed to improving processes and strategies and learning approaches for their students, but that often means that they're left with little time to grow themselves. So I wanted to offer just a few tips about some ways educators might instill continuous learning and be a model learner for their students in an ongoing and consistent way.
Look at learning events or experiences you want to engage in. These could be conferences, workshops within your school or district, or synchronous or asynchronous online learning experiences. Identify them early in the year. Blocking them out on your calendar. Make a clear plan to ensure you have the funding, resources, and time to actually get there and be fully engaged.
These steps help ensure this part of your own learning cycle isn't just a wish, but something that actually happens and becomes a habit for you over time. Perhaps a particular event or experience is incredibly valuable and you want to return to that same conference or that same workshop, year after year. You might watch a webinar that really sparks your thinking about a particular topic and encourages you to explore more about that particular author, facilitator, or approach.
Consider the books you want to read over the course of the next year. Utilize a tracking tool such as Goodreads and set a reading challenge for yourself. Recognize that not all of the books you read need to be consumed and processed in print form. You can also consider which of those might be appropriate in an audible format.
From there, make a plan. Figure out how many books you want to read per month or per week. Set aside time and block it out in your calendar. I like to listen to audio books when I'm commuting or doing chores as a way to repurpose that time to be as valuable as I possibly can. I also work, when possible, to block out 30 minutes in my calendar each day to engage in some type of print reading, whether that be an article, a newspaper, or a book that I'm diving into.
Think about the connections you want to make as a constant learner. All too often we overlook these connections or hope they just happen authentically throughout our day-to-day experiences. While that certainly will happen, it's also to carve out intentional moments for you to connect with the people in your own professional learning network who matter the most to you or who might help you stretch your learning edges just a bit.
Set aside time once a month for an accountability group or a thought partnership you want to engage with regularly. Carve out 30 minutes a week with another educator with whom you may want to have coffee. Commit to a Twitter chat on a regular basis to "run into" other educators committed to the same grade level, content area, or area of leadership you are looking to continuously develop.
However you choose to connect, in person or virtually, please make sure it's a consistent part of your regular routine. These connections and relationships are too valuable - not only for your professional growth, but also your social emotional wellness. You want to make sure they have time every single week in your space.
As you think about making learning an even stronger habit in your practices, don't overlook conferences and experiences, opportunities to read both audio and print books, and connections that are so important to all of us.
I would love to hear about some of the ways that you are making learning a habit in your own day-to-day practice. Please share them with me and tag me @thelearningloop so that we can continue growing together.