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Keeping it Exciting and New

“Arriving at one point is the starting point to another.”  John Dewey

As the term implies, learner-centered instruction focuses on making learning meaningful, engaging and relevant for the learner.  Is the learner the only one to gain from the experience?  Teaching is like parenting – you spend several decades raising children, but there comes a time when, if you’ve done the job well, the focus is no longer solely on their needs, but on re-centering on yours. And so it is with students – arriving at the point where your instruction has allowed them to be independent learners is the starting point for your own professional development.  And like the empty nester, keeping on top of your own game is how you make things exciting for yourself as an instructor.

There are a few ways I see to do this – based on personal experience and observation.

  1. Teach what you love
  2. Hang out with other professionals in your field
  3. Take a strong interest in your students as individuals

I am posting this blog from a cruise ship to Hawaii (remember that empty nesting I referred to earlier?)  On the ship you have an opportunity to participate in ‘scholarship at sea’ for more formal learning experiences, but many other people aboard are teachers in their own right.  They all love what they do, it shows, and it makes it easy and fun to learn from them.  Take for example the woman that instructed my husband in new casino card games.  She was obviously very knowledgeable about the games, but also truly enjoyed watching people learn and, as a result, win some money.  She talked about how the gaming industry is changing as well as tricks of the trade.  Teach what you love.  By doing so, you will want to learn more about it, to follow recent trends, research on your own, and change things up accordingly – this keeps it fresh.  This makes it exciting for you AND your students.

Focusing on yourself and continued learning is crucial to personal growth. Focusing on others is next.  What can you learn from other professionals in your field or in related fields?– other teachers as well as those not in the classroom, but practitioners in your subject area.  What about the students?  What can be learned from them?  Let’s face it, we hang around with people who make us feel good and who help us to grow as individuals.  Teaching is one of the very few professions (other than a cruise ship crew) that allows you to come in contact with many, many people over your career. Each one has a life story, each one can bring as much enrichment to you as you can to them.  You keep teaching exciting by continuing to learn.  Just like each new day on a cruise, arriving at one point is the starting point to another.

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