I took the photo above from a SocialWorker.com article about some social workers' bad attitudes about mandatory continuing education credits. To be clear, social workers aren't in the only profession that requires continuing education nor are they the only ones who sometimes get bad attitudes about the "extra" work. I have to admit that I don't always have a positive attitude about some of my required professional development, but I always have a great outlook on learning new things. Plus, I think it's important for teachers to take on the role of student as frequently as they can.
I recently got to watch a group of second-year Teaching Fellows in the University of Pennsylvania Independent School Teaching Residency program (for which they earn an M.S.Ed degrees this weekend -- Congratulations!!) present their final inquiry projects. It was my total joy to learn from these early-career teachers about the pedagogical research they conducted with their classes to improve student outcomes. Even though I've been doing this teaching thing a long time at this point, I heard many terrific ideas about new ways to approach lesson-planning and assessments. How great for my students that I can learn new and more effective teacher moves.
I loved getting ideas from these young people, but I felt no pressure that I HAD to learn the material. For that feeling to grip me, I'd have to be an enrolled student earning a grade. Part of why I took all of the classes that helped me earn my MFA last May was so that I would know how it felt to be evaluated by a teacher. Without having to experience that vulnerability, I might forget how my students feel every time I ask them to allow me to read and judge their work. By taking classes, I remembered how it felt to be on the other end of a deadline, a quiz, a graded essay. It's not easy.
So now that I've completed the degree program, I need to figure out what graded classes I should take next. I don't want to forget the feeling, but I also don't need another Master's or any other degree. I'm open to suggestions.
Other teachers reading this, what do you think about taking classes for which you're being evaluated? Everyone, what are fun ways you keep yourself open to new ideas? Please share any thoughts in the comments.