How long have you been teaching?
Since 1984, first teaching teenagers and, later, adults. I believe that good leadership is teaching. One of my favorite quotations is from James MacGregor Burns:
“Leaders shape and alter and elevate the motives and values and goals of followers through the vital teaching role of leadership.”
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
That’s a wonderful question. When I was teaching high school English I learned that when I was able to give up having to control the class, the best teaching and learning occurred. I didn’t need to be the one driving discussion of a short story or novel, aiming for a pre-determined answer, for the conversation and thinking to be rich. That said, I believe it’s my responsibility to offer some direct instruction with modeling, guidelines, and parameters, then release the responsibility to the learner. (“I do it. We do it. You do it.”)
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Oh yes. You’ve heard this over and over, I’m sure. I’ve learned more in my 22 months on Twitter—thanks to a robust Learning Network—than in years of other traditional classes and workshops. Social media can really change the shape of learning. I believe that the best adult learning is personal, social, and voluntary.
What's the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
Don’t be embarrassed to “not know.” I’d advise new teachers (all teachers, really) to find an area of passion and follow it and to find a source of connected learning to help build a support network. That can be a Ning like the Educator’s PLN or the English Companion, a great blog like The Daring Librarian, or a social media site like Twitter. Work with a digital-savvy mentor to learn the ins-and-outs of navigating this new kind of knowledge creation.