I got to speak with a group of preservice teachers this morning at the University of Evansville. Heading into the class, I was thinking about what things I would share to start them off on the right foot. This is what I came up with:
Join Twitter – If you are not involved in some sort of professional learning network, you need to find one. Now. I joined Twitter in my second year of teaching, and the last year of learning has been incredible. I want young teachers to have that network built before they start working in schools. Preparation should be relevant, and Twitter is the best way to stay up-to-date.
Start Blogging – Reflection is key to improvement. If there is no reflection in the learning process, growth cannot occur. Unfortunately, reflection usually comes when graded papers are returned. We cannot equate reflection with evaluation. Strong programs are preparing our young teachers to be writing for the sake of writing, rather than for the sake of evaluation. I was fortunate enough to have a cooperating teacher during my student teaching that understood, and instilled, the value of reflection in me and my teaching. I want to be able to do the same.
Organize Information – My first year of teaching was a whirlwind of curation. I did not have a good library built up from college (plus, it was all on paper), so I spent a great deal of time hunting for resources. Now, with tools like Diigo, Pinterest, and Scoop.it, students can curate and share information faster than ever. College students should be building this library as they plan lessons and begin practicum placements, not when they begin their first job. Sharing the information they find is also key, and each of those communities can foster that process as well.
I know one student from this morning signed up for a Twitter account. I am looking forward to going back and working with another group next semester.