Being exposed to something is not enough for me to actually learn anything about that something. I need to be exposed in such a way that my interest is piqued and I develop an unquenchable desire to learn more.
I'm a slow learner with undiagnosed attention deficits. Sitting in a classroom or a workshop now, I day dream and doodle and only manage to pick up about half of what is being taught. Many times that half is enough to inspire me to go home and not only learn the half I missed, but learn far more than the original intent of the discussion.
Years ago, I decided I needed to be computer literate and took a data processing course while on sabbatical. The course was introductory and we just touched on spread sheets, word processing and data base. The data base was something I had no use for and immediately forgot everything I learned. The other two topics were important and I not only mastered what was taught in class, I went above and beyond and now consider myself a master in those subjects. I learned Lotus and Word Perfect way back then but I have been able to transfer that knowledge and I can now use almost every program around.
When the TI 83 graphing calculators were first introduced to us, I also attended many workshops to learn how to use them properly. It was only when I really got interested and sat and played with them on my own did I become a master. I feel so proud of myself because I was just able to do the same thing with my Casio. We only had a 40 minute workshop, but it was enough. Now I can read the menus and the manual and so far I have only been stumped by one little topic. A quick e-mail to the person who ran the workshop solved that problem for me.
We only see our students 40 minutes a day which is not enough time to really get into the nitty gritty of all the material we have to offer. If only we could find a way to peak their interests, to make them want to learn more, we could solve many of the problems of education today.
Thursday's staff development consisted of 5 short sessions on different topics. The material from the ones that did not peak my interest hit a brick wall in my brain. More time would have taught me more about active literacy and high level questioning but as soon as the workshop ended, my learning would end as well. The workshop that got to me has me going home and practicing, reading up on the subject and trying to come up with ways to incorporate some of this into my lessons. (Unfortunately, due to the unyielding curriculum I am forced to teach, I will probably never be able to do this.)
Blogging is another thing that really does it for me. I am waiting for some friends to arrive so we can go hit the wineries of the north shore. (Look for the post from a very tipsy teacher later. I am not good at holding my alcohol.) Instead of picking up my house or reading a book, I'm sitting here reading blogs and posting. All I needed was one little boost from NYC Educator and I have been hooked for life. There has got to be a way we can transfer this to our students.