Teacher Leaders

Let us help: A message to teacher leaders

Whether you’re a principal, professor, mentor, or a learning community facilitator, if you are passionate about sparking growth in teachers, we’d love to help you. You know yourself that nothing facilitates professional growth like reflection and discussion. Something almost magical happens when we come together over issues about which we are passionate. We make connections. We have “ah-ha” moments. We generate excitement and enthusiasm. Relationships blossom and are strengthened. And, eventually, as all that filters right back into our craft, our teaching becomes stronger and our students benefit.

But how do you, as a leader, facilitate this kind of experience on a consistent basis? With the demands put on educational leaders, teachers, and districts, and with every dollar and minute stretched tight, how can you justify the time it takes to nurture a community of teachers? How can you get everybody together–in a relaxed atmosphere, at the same time, in the same place–to chat about the latest educational literature, share best practices, or celebrate our own growth as professionals?

You can’t, and you know it. The traditional constraints of time, space and insane schedules won’t be overcome using traditional strategies. We Teach We Learn is flexible and adaptable enough to help you work around all that. Here’s how:

Engaging and relevant new learning

It’s easy enough to give (one way communication) your community or staff an article to read or bring in a speaker, and then ask teachers to consider how they might use that information. But without following that new learning with some sort of discussion (two way communication), it’s impossible to get the feedback you need to assess that reading’s (or the speaker’s) effectiveness. The obvious problem here is that our profession is hectic and demanding. It’s not often we have the luxury of sitting down together with a nice cup of coffee to discuss how new ideas work in our specific learning environments.

We Teach We Learn is an environment where you can do exactly that–consistently.

Within this site, you’ll find a wealth of articles both interesting and highly relevant to teachers. This is no ivory tower. And we are constantly updating, so you’re guaranteed to find the most recent research and practical commentary on a variety of topics such as:

  • assessment,
  • differentiation,
  • multiple intelligences,
  • motivation,
  • technology (video, Web 2.0, wiki’s, blogs, and more) in the classroom,
  • brain-based teaching,
  • using movement in the classroom,
  • community based teaching,
  • emotional intelligence,
  • discussion techniques,
  • student centered classrooms,
  • and much much more!

All this presented in easy to read, engaging articles written by active teachers themselves. So don’t spend another minute searching for appropriate material. It’s either all right here, or soon will be.

In fact, sign up for a free subscription and every time we post something new on the site, you’ll get an update delivered directly to your email inbox or your very own RSS feed. Would you like to begin a discussion in your district or adult learning community about brain-based gender differentiation? How about using web 2.0 to encourage collaboration and/or writing? Or perhaps a series of articles about discussion techniques designed to facilitate a more student led classroom? With We Teach We Learn, it’s easy. Just find an article you think might spark a discussion and share it with your staff via an email link. Often, we’ve included a few questions you can use to kick things off. Or you can frame the discussion yourself by including in your email some questions framed specifically for your situation.

Meaningful Discussions: Fueling the engine of professional growth

You already know that assigning the reading, or hiring the speaker, is the easy part. The challenge is assessing your group’s response to the new learning. Is it relevant and meaningful to them right now? How do you measure the return on your investment when you hire a speaker or pay for a workshop or conference? There’s nothing more frustrating than listening for feedback and hearing only deafening silence.

Because we are all so busy in the real world, when it comes to facilitating professional growth, getting feedback and taking the time to assess the value of the material you’re sharing is often next to impossible.

Yet this is where We Teach We Learn shines. Because once you’ve framed your follow-up questions and linked your staff, community or students to the reading you want to share with them, the rest is on autopilot. You don’t have to do a thing because at We Teach We Learn, conversations will grow naturally, organically, and automatically. All you have to do is sit back and watch the discussion take shape.

You see, every article at We Teach We Learn includes, just below it, a comment section. Simply ask the members of your group to use it. Encourage the discussion by participating yourself, adding your own follow-up thoughts to their comments. The feedback you provide is invaluably stimulating to the discussion, but what’s even more powerful is that after a short time, you’ll begin to find that your feedback isn’t really needed, because your participants will begin responding to each other, providing an even more engaging feedback loop and fueling an engine of ongoing reflection and professional growth. And because our writers are as interested in the topics as you are, there’s a good chance they will join in the discussion as well!

Often the discussions at We Teach We Learn take on lives of their own, becoming even more valuable (and often much longer) than the original article.

On-line discussions of this kind are incredibly powerful tools for organizational growth for a number of reasons:

  1. Participants choose when to play. We have papers to correct. We have another meeting in five minutes. We need to prepare for our next class or practice. So, discussions at We Teach We Learn occur naturally over time, when your participants are ready (and willing) to engage.
  2. Time to reflect. Often, when presented with new information, adults need time to mull it over and make connections of their own before they’re ready to share their thoughts. This might take hours. It might take days. It all depends. This is true not only for the original content (the article), but also during discussions. When we gather together in a room, we don’t get much time to reflect. We Teach We Learn allows for this processing time.
  3. High quality discussions. Let’s be honest: meetings suck the life out of some people. We all have our own unique cycles of energy. What happens when you ask a bunch of “morning people” to a late afternoon meeting? Or Mr. Night Owl to a morning meeting before he’s had his coffee. How much are you going to get out of him? We Teach We Learn is flexible enough to catch people at their best–which is great for facilitating intelligent and energetic participation.
  4. Documentation. Who are you going to assign to take minutes? Oh, that’s right–nobody! The whole discussion is documented right here in real time–for all time. Print it out or refer back to it whenever you feel the need.
  5. Accountability. If someone asked you to provide data to support your professional development activities, could you do it? You can now. Simply point to the discussion you’re having at We Teach We Learn. Better yet, ask them to join in! Which leads us to the next benefit. No need to take attendance or collect and file documents. Just check to see whose participating.
  6. It’s free. We guarantee We Teach We Learn will be the highest ROI (Return On Investment) item in your budget, or we’ll refund your money. 🙂

So there you have it. We Teach We Learn is designed and run for teachers by teachers, fits your budget, is easy to use, relevant to our lives as educators, and rigorous enough to engage us. For teachers and leaders passionate about the craft of teaching, professional development has never been this much fun.

If you have any questions about how to use We Teach We Learn, any suggestions for future articles, or how to make this experience more useful for teachers, please feel free to contact us via email at mrwondra@weteachwelearn.org.