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Celebrate Self-Improvement Month

By The Room 241 Team September 21, 2011

It’s September and summer break is over and it’s now back to school time. Fitting, isn’t it, that the month when most teachers and students return to the classroom would be designated Self-Improvement Month?

Self-Improvement – we’ve all heard the term. “To improve oneself in body, mind and/or spirit.” The self-improvement industry’ generates more than $13 billion in sales annually in the United States on books, seminars, CDs and other programs. There is an almost limitless amount of information available for those who choose to seek it.

Educators’ Self-Improvement

Perhaps no group of professionals understands the concept of self-improvement better than educators — they’re entrusted with the job of helping others to improve themselves, to prepare them for life in the “real world.” It’s a difficult task, complicated by often competing demands, unreasonable expectations and other external pressures such as budgetary constraints and policy decisions driven by political agendas.

So, perhaps there’s no better time than now for these same educators, these teachers, to embark on their own journey of self-improvement. In bettering themselves, educators can improve the quality of education they provide while also improving quality of their own lives.

Advantages of a Master’s Degree

Obtaining a master’s degree in education, for example, may generate a salary increase or open new doors in career choices. It may facilitate more meaningful community involvement or even serve as an example to peers of what career advancement is available. And of course, those who consistently update their knowledge and understanding of education become better teachers.

There are most likely very few teachers in the field who currently feel that they are the best they can be at their craft, and that there is nothing more for them to learn. Yet, with the demands of teaching constantly juggled along with family obligations, extracurricular activities and whatever other time and attention demands that each day presents, it’s difficult to imagine spending even more time in any classroom. But reorienting one’s life to accommodate the time required to obtain a master’s degree in education or other new skills is worthwhile and not as much of a demand on one’s time as one might think.

A major reason to go back to school is to better understand today’s higher education environment, in order to better identify with the issues faced by today’s students. As children advance from elementary to middle school to high school and, for many, on to college, the world they experience is vastly different from the world their teachers know best. So much has changed. Traditional views of education no longer hold as much weight and traditional teaching methods no longer hold as much relevance as they once did, while technology and social media demand more attention.

Online Learning Opportunities

So much related to teaching and to the field of education is available online. More institutions are offering courses and, in some instances, even degree programs, that investigate the role of the Internet and social media. Students are becoming more and more attuned to these options and teachers are under ever-increasing pressure to understand the environment in which their students must compete and prepare them accordingly.

Students today are familiar with social media, of course (Facebook, anyone?), so it’s no surprise that colleges and universities are providing classes that provide education in that area. It should be obvious that the teachers who choose to educate themselves in the area of social media enhance their understanding not only of the place social media holds in our lives, but the role in the lives of their students as well.

What may not be as obvious is that when a teacher chooses, for example, to pursue a master’s degree in education, she ventures onto the same path as her students. If she’s been teaching for many years, she may not be aware of how different being a college student today has become, how much things have changed or how challenging it is to even get into college. Applying for a master’s degree, successfully navigating the application process and actually attending university classes today is remarkably different than it was 10 years ago.

The Benefits of Self-Improvement

When a teacher chooses to follow a path of self-improvement, she often finds that she develops heightened self-awareness. In discovering what she doesn’t know, she recognizes more of what can be learned and, as a result, what can be taught. Although it might sound a bit mystic, it is probably safe to say that a teacher should always be a student.

Teachers should not, however, lose sight of the primary reason for self-improvement: Improving oneself. Taking steps to enhance her own quality of life will increase her sense of fulfillment, and will give her a more positive outlook and greater confidence. All of that will be conveyed in a significant and meaningful manner to all those with whom she comes into contact — students, parents, other educators and the community at large. Self-improvement really is for the benefit of all.

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