Theresa London Cooper
educators we are often concerned about building our students’
content knowledge. After all, if we want our students to exercise
high levels of thinking, we must give them something to think about.
But what about us? How do we build our own knowledge? What are some
practical things we can do to learn more about the subject(s) we
teach? There are several practices that work for me.
First and foremost as I have written on many occasions – read.
It is worthwhile to read newspapers, magazines, professional journals
and books. Don’t limit yourself to any one type of reading
material. Surfing the Internet is another way to gather useful information.
I have created my own reference materials by selecting valuable
and pertinent information I’ve located on the Internet. You
would be surprised what you can gather by noticing the information
that surrounds you. For example, several years ago, I purchased
a box of Celestial Seasonings tea. Shortly after, as I prepared
a cup of tea, on the side of the box, I noticed an amazing poem
giving parents tips on how to rear their children. I used the poem
in a parent workshop. I still cannot believe I found the poem on
a tea box. By the way Celestial Seasoning tea boxes have wonderful
quotes and saying. The next time you visit the supermarket, take
a few minutes to read a few. You just might find something you can
engage in conversations with other colleagues who may practice within
your field and in allying fields. I have learned a tremendous amount
by talking to other professionals. Take advantage of networking
opportunities like forums, workshops, and conferences to engage
Third, dare I say it - watch television. Judiciously. PBS has fantastic
documentaries and programs on a wide range of issues. It has helped
me broaden my understanding of literacy by pointing out connections
and relationships between topics that I had not previously considered.
Finally, listening to books on tape is great way to build content
knowledge. I have found it to be a relaxing way to think about important
information as I can replay it and jot down notes to reflect on
what I am hearing and learning.
What do you
do to deepen your knowledge?