Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of a Teacher Challenge

What professional learning activities truly change my practice?

I would have to say Teacher Challenges.  They are better than most workshops, seminars, or trainings at creating a lasting impact on my growth and learning.

What is a Teacher Challenge?

They are free professional learning events that feature daily or weekly tasks around a specific focus. The purpose of these challenges are to increase teacher skills with the support of mentors and colleagues.  In one of my Voxer chat groups, someone referred to challenges as a way for us to 'lovingly support and hold each other accountable' as we learn and try new things.

Here are a few of examples of teacher challenges:
Edublogs Teacher Challenges
Thinglink App Smash Challenge
TeachThought #Reflectiveteacher Blog Challenge
Global Cardboard Challenge - get students involved!
Your #EduStory Challenge 2015

Why are they so effective? 

I think it is because of four things:

  1. Community  - Teacher challenges are social and learning is social. When I participate in one I want to 'keep up' with others as well as contribute to the learning and discussions of others.
  2. Accountability - In a challenge, I am motivated to stay the course and complete it to the end. Knowing others are waiting to see what you post is an effective motivator!
  3. Collaboration - In every challenge I meet new people and learn new ways of doing things.  Many of the folks I am closest to in my personal learning network participated in challenges with me. We are always #bettertogether.
  4. Creativity - We are all creators at heart. The feeling of taking an idea through to a product that can be shared is rewarding.  We get so busy in our jobs and the day to day grind that we forget to nurture our creativity. Taking time to edit a photo, construct a video, build a model or write a story is invigorating and empowering. Let the creativity flow!

My past Teacher Challenges:

Thinglink, Teacher Challenge 2014
The Seven Day Daily Create Mashup Challenge
#ReflectiveTeacher 30 Day Blogging Challenge by TeachThought

Current challenges in which I am participating:

GEGNorCal Blogging Challenge
Thinglink STEAM Challenge

Challenges I created or helped with:

No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge - with creator Matthew Weld
Admins Edtech Challenge for school site leaders and administrators (Coming Feb. 2015)

Here is my challenge to you:

Participate in at least one challenge before the end of the school year.  I try to do three per year, one in the spring, summer and fall.  Whether you complete the entire challenge or just one or two activities, it will be a rewarding experience. So take the plunge, accept a challenge and get started.

If you have a Teacher Challenge you would like to share please post in the comments.