Thursday, July 16, 2009

Need some rejuvinating?

Doesn't this look refreshing?

Don't you wish there was a way to do this mentally? A way to have some fun and come back refreshed - but with no guilt and no catching up to do?

We at CTLE spent all day yesterday at an off-site retreat. We didn't spend a lot of money - one of our team members hosted us at his home. It wasn't all fun and games - we worked hard all day! But because we enjoy one another's company and what we do, we were able to have a really productive day that left us (I think I can speak for everyone here) refreshed and inspired. Although we always walk away with a lot of work to do, it's also with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement, as well as a greater appreciation of one another.

So how can you apply this to your teaching? Why not have a teaching retreat? I think it would be a great idea for folks who teach similar classes to get together, even if it's just once a year, and share new ideas, try out activities, and work together to find solutions to problems. It might be even more exciting to get together folks who teach in different disciplines - it would be a great chance to learn from one another, and you likely have more in common than you might think.

Can't get everyone together in the same location at the same time? Why not hold the meeting online, taking advantage of the online tools available to us, such as Wimba? This would allow everyone to join from wherever they happen to be (even if it's at home in pjs), and to try out new technologies. Although Wimba can be used with a phone or through text-based conversation, why not buy a webcam (they're fairly inexpensive these days) so you can see one another (although pjs are not recommended in this case).

Don't have a group to meet with? Why not hold your own personal teaching retreat? Clear a full day on your calendar to surround yourself with all of the notes and resources you've been meaning to review. Create an agenda so you don't find yourself tuning out and checking email, listening to the radio, etc. Set goals for the next semester or year (e.g., incorporate at least one new activity into each class, try a new technological teaching tool) and devise strategies to help you reach those goals. Take time to create a group of peers so next year you won't be all on your own (you can try searching the internet for chat rooms, listserves, existing groups in your area...)!

Remember, sometimes you have to take time out to set goals, reprioritize, and rejuvinate interest in order to be really effective at what you do. This is time well spent!

Photo courtesy of bbum.

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