As a science educator, I love showing my students the wonders of the world. I encourage them to always be curious, ask questions, and seek out new knowledge and skills. An important part of my job is modeling lifelong learning for my students—and one of my favorite ways to do that is by honing my skills in professional learning courses.
I’ve participated in a variety of professional development (PD) courses throughout my teaching career, but some of the most powerful ones I’ve experienced have been the free, short, self-paced courses from the National Geographic Society. These online PD courses cover everything from developing an “explorer mindset” in students to methods of empowering students to tell impactful stories. The courses surpassed my expectations of what an online professional learning course can be—and how easily I can translate what I’ve learned in these courses into my classroom activities and instruction.
Here are three of the lasting impacts that these courses had on me as a teacher–and as a person.
1. The courses helped me form a community of practice with teachers around the world.
Myth: Self-paced courses are isolating. Fact: When teachers across the world go through the same course at their own paces, this shared experience and knowledge helps forge a community of professional learners. After taking a 50-minute mini-course called “Developing a National Geographic Explorer Mindset with Your Learners,” I joined the National Geographic Explorer Mindset Community to continue my learning, collaborate and share best practices, and learn how other teachers were applying what they had learned in the course. Through this Facebook group, I met other educators from around the world. I even formed a connection with two educators—Tim Black in Paris and Danielle Zelin in Mauritius—and co-created the Global Educator Explorers Team website.
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