Life Long Learning

Author: Pam Inabinett



What does it mean to be a lifelong learner and why is it important to be one? I found this definition online: “the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people's lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment.”

collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/lifelong-learning


I really loved how the definition included formal and informal opportunities. As educators we are required to take courses throughout our career. Some of us even do this on our own dime! We continue with district-led professional development and continuing education courses through higher education entities. Those learning opportunities are expected and required. Formal learning opportunities are definitely valuable. Can you think of one that really stands out for you? Some of my graduate level courses really helped me in the classroom with resources that were great for students and teachers.


The informal learning opportunities can include many resources: book studies, group discussions, social media, podcasts, and more come right to mind when I think of informal opportunities to learn. Why should we, as educators, be lifelong learners? A good friend, Suzanne Brooks, a Lexington One educator, said it best, “A former principal says when you are green, you grow and when you are ripe, you rot.” That is one great way to look at lifelong learning. It really doesn’t matter how you choose to grow, as long as you choose to grow.


I am a 20-year veteran teacher and have been a fifth-grade teacher and instructional technology specialist during my teaching career. It was imperative that I continued to learn. I barely managed to stay one step ahead of the students and the teachers in my building! Several resources really helped me and those were:


  1. Building a PLN

  2. Attending and presenting at conferences

  3. Reading great books recommended by fellow educators

  4. Joining a network of teachers from around the world (shameless plug for Discovery Education Network)


Some great conferences in South Carolina that can help you to continue to learn are Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit scmidlandssummit.com, Greenville School District’s Upstate Technology Conference utcsc.com, and South Carolina ASCD’s Spring Conference and Fall Whole Child Conference scascd.org. All of these allow you to grow professionally, connect with peers across the state, and get recharged. You can also get connected on social media with @mrdearbury. He hosts a Twitter chat, #teachSC, every Tuesday night at 9:00pm. We tend to discuss growth opportunities for educators across South Carolina. Are there some twitter chats or conferences that you find valuable? Please share!


Another way to continue to learn is by attending an EdCamp. One of the best is #YeahThatEdCamp in Greenville and it is usually hosted in Greenville in early spring every year. If you are an instructional coach, you might consider attending #EdCampEDUCoachSC in July in North Charleston sponsored by Berkeley County School District. EdCamps allow you to learn, share, and connect with fellow educators. EdCamps allow participants to share their best resources in a comfortable environment.


Podcasts are a great way to continue learning. cultofpedagogy.com, shakeuplearning.com/start-here/the-podcast, and jakemiller.net/eduducttape are some great podcasts to listen to and learn. You will find yourself following educators on social media from across the country. Give a podcast a try! What is one of your must listen to podcasts?

One of the best places to learn more is from the teacher down the hall. Teachers in your building get the obstacles you face daily. They understand the students you face every day. Tap into their strengths. Think back to a teacher in your building and how they helped you in your career. Take a minute and write them a quick thank you note. Educators live for those precious notes!


Finally, I urge you to connect to my favorite network, Discovery Education Network (den.discoveryeducation.com/home). I can honestly say being part of the DEN changed my life. Being part of this amazing community made me a better teacher, friend, and person. If you have Discovery Education, please join! Discovery Education offers events throughout the year to support educators across the world. Jump in, friends!


Why do we continue to be lifelong learners? Obviously, we continue to learn to best serve the students who sit in our classrooms daily. Aren’t they worth it?


About Pam Inabinett: Pam Inabinett is a Partnerships Manager with Discovery Education. She is a twenty-year veteran teacher and technology coach. Connect with her on twitter @pnabbie.

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