How We Teach is the Message

Books + People (+ Reflection) = Growth

The following quotation, shared often by the financial guru Dave Ramsey, is one that I return to again and again in regards to my personal and professional development:

“Five years from now you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

What an interesting idea! Growth (either personal or professional) does not just occur, but is the result of a purposeful effort to learn more, do more, produce more, be more. Many people want to grow and improve, but their good intentions die as such. This quotation shares two great ways to get started in changing your desires for growth into tangible results.

First, the people you meet. A good start? Deliberately surrounding yourself with people who are masters (or, at the very least, successful) in areas that you want to master. The advent of social networking has made this possible in ways previously unimaginable. After reading Jeff Utecht’s Reach I was challenged to create my own Professional Learning Network via Twitter, a site I had heard of but had no experience with. What an amazing opportunity this is! Twitter allows me to follow, learn from, and engage with top educators from across the country (and world!) in real-time on a daily basis. In my small, rather isolated district, I now have access to some of the most brilliant and creative minds in education! Oh, and did I mention…it’s easy? I also still pursue meeting new people in more traditional ways (i.e. via conferences — most recently and notably the Flipped Classroom Conference in Woodland Park, CO), but Twitter adds a whole new dimension to this.

Second, the books you read. As shown in the graphic above, this summer has been all about reading quality non-fiction books that will stretch my mind and perspective. I started 2009 with a goal — to, on average, read 1 non-fiction book a month. (This goal was also motivated by Dave Ramsey.) After achieving that and learning so much in the process, in 2010 I doubled my pledge to 2 non-fiction books a month. At the end of the year I was disappointed to fall a few books short, but…still — all of the thoughts, ideas, and epiphanies from 20 excellent books in one year — definitely not a loss! I have continued this goal for 2011.

With the recent creation of the blog, I am adding a third element to my growth formula.

The people I meet + the books I read + time spent actively reflecting on these ideas = a great equation for growth!

The reflection piece of this equation will allow me to “mull over” the ideas I glean from people and books in a more formal, meaningful, and purposeful way.

Rather than using technology for its own sake, it is imperative to use a tech tool to accomplish a specific objective — and one that it is well-designed for. My goal is to actively reflect on my own practice and professional development; I think this blog is just the tool to accomplish that.

Lastly, just this morning I read the following in Seth Godin’s Linchpin:

“Yesterday’s remarkable is today’s really good and tomorrow’s mediocre.”

It will never be enough to achieve “remarkable” status — you must work to stay remarkable. That is my goal. People, books, and reflection will help me get there.

Michelle Rinehart

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