As I did in 2007 and in 2008, I invited readers to send-in one-to-three things they learned in 2008. Quite a few of you shared and I have the privilege, in turn, of sharing your lessons here.

I’ll save mine until the end.

Here are the responses to the question “What Did You Learn In 2009?” I also asked people to give a short description of who they were.

Tara Benwell:

I learned that students have their own creative ideas about blogging and that teachers can learn a lot by giving them a space to voice their needs and opinions. I’m a Canadian writer who challenges English learners on’s social network, MyEC.

Elaine Talbert:

I am a techy-type teacher and always-on learner from way-back.

In 2009, I have learnt that:

*the pace of change in what constitutes effective teaching practice is seriously challenging most teachers. This has resulted in a dire need for many to update their practice. The notion of being a lifelong learner has never been so relevant for genuine educators. This is a non-negotiable, individual responsibility.
*web2.0 social media tools should be thoroughly assessed before teachers consider there use with students. This assessment would incorporate all the standard website content, functionality, age-suitability and eligibility criteria.
*being youngish does not necessarily mean that effective teaching practice using computing technology will automatically occur. The capacity to select online resources and tools that will achieve identified learning outcomes is the key.

Finally, 2010 will be even more exciting.


I learned that the opportunity to loop with students and teach them for two (or more) years is invaluable, for both the teacher and the kids.

I teach Language Arts at an urban school.

Laurie Fowler:

I learned that taking the Web 2.0 tools I love to the K-12 classroom is harder than I thought. It is hard to convince teachers of the good in social networking and other web 2.0 tools out there. I am an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of West Alabama.

Sheila Beck:

1. Students are more savvy users than most teachers
2. Teachers need professional development focused on Web 2.0 and computer basics
3. Reinventing schools and classrooms now…is a requirement not a discussion for administration.

Business retiree after 35 years with a fortune 200 company who is now loving students and working with technology in schools!!!

Elise Tickner:

Second graders can find appropriate images on the internet, copy them, paste them into a word processing document, write a sentence about the picture and save it in a folder with their name, inside of a folder with their grade, inside of a folder with another name.

I teach Spanish literacy to students that speak Spanish at an elementary school in rural Oregon. When they learn more oral English, we transition them to reading in English.

Susan the book chook:

In 2009, I learned that the internet is a vast and geeky well of wonder, and that much of it can inspire kids to express themselves. I love the way so many web 2.0 tools encourage us to communicate. At the end of the day, it is the conversations and the stories that we will remember, and they have the potential to change our lives.

Susan Stephenson blogs at The Book Chook about her passions – children’s literacy and literature.

Hadley Ferguson:

I learned that amazingly rich conversations can happen in 140 characters and that there are many people eager to learn with me about how to make the learning that happens in each classroom richer for every student. It is not about technology for its own sake, but it is about discovering which tools will enhance the growth of the students. It is also about building into the classroom the collaboration that is so much a part of the 2.0 world.

judie haynes:

I learned to use Facebook about one year ago. Over the last two months I have become active on Twitter, posted all my documents on Delicious, and used Google Wave, Google Docs, Skype for educational purposes. My next goal is to start a blog on my website. (Judie Haynes, creator of, taught ESL in an elementary school for 28 years and is now providing professional development to school districts around the U.S.)

Eva Büyüksimkeşyan:

I’m an EFL teacher and I’ve been teaching for 20 years. I really love my job very much because it’s not just teaching, it’s also learning new things constantly.

I’ve learned loads of things this year. I’m new to everything but I’ll try to list the most important ones.

1. Web 2.0 tools, now I feel more confident using them and trying to integrate them to my teaching.
2. Twitter which enabled me to meet wonderful educators (Now I have my own PLN, a real privilege) and led me to the links which I’d never reached by searching.
3. Using skype in the class. I’d never thought practising English with real people would be easy and comfortable.

Sarah Korlaki:

One of the things I’ve learnt is the value of collaboration. I’ve only been teaching for 3 years and have always been happy to share my ideas with others, and ask for help when I need it. Unfortunately, many teachers do not like to share their resources, units, lesson plans, etc. Someone at school asked me earlier this year to check out what twitter for educators was all about so that I could share it with our staff, and I have learnt so much in that short 6 months. Collaborating, learning, sharing, reading, and communicating with other people that are in the EXACT same position as me has taught me not only that there are others like me, but also that there is a wealth of information out there as long as you are prepared to look for it.

Another thing I’ve learnt in 2009 is that as a teacher you really need to find the time to separate your work life from your home life, otherwise they can interlink too much. With the popularity of things like smart phones and other technologies, people are using tech much more often. It is much easier now to do more work while you’re not at work, but it’s important to limit that so the work area or the personal area of your life don’t suffer.

I guess something you can write to describe me is that I’m a high school science teacher from Australia who loves reading, sharing, learning and helping others.

Shelly Terrell:

This year I learned how to use social media to build Personal Learning Networks and communities. I am blessed by my PLN everyday who support me, share resources, and inspire me to become a better educator and person.

Shelly Terrell is an English language teacher and technology trainer based in Germany.


Learned a lot about social networking, blogging etc; learned a bit more about motivating teachers (I hope); learned a few more people were friendly; learned a few harder life lessons; on the whole a good learning year.

Patrick Larkin:

It took me longer than some, but I learned the power of the PLN. I do not have to wait for the traditional walls of isolation to come down, I have a whole universe of people on Twitter who are willing to collaborate 24-7. In addition I learned that I need to model clearly and consistently the expectations that I expect staff to have for students. My New Year’s wish is a PLN for every student and staff member!

Patrick Larkin, Principal, Burlington High School (MA)

David Deubelbeiss:

I learned — that I’m not needed ( and am still learning it so it goes into my bones). A few times this year, I was confronted with this fact, my own insignificance in the face of student curiosity and learning needs. I learned to get out of the way….

What I mean is that my own job description is to write myself out of a job. The better I am as a teacher, the less I’m needed. If students really need me – I’m doing a damn poor job!

Somehow this year, this has informed me and challenged me. I think this will be a future reality and reflection of many teachers.

Kim Pennington:

I’m One Very Happy Second Grade Teacher.

I’ve learned to reach outside the walls of my small school to find a community of like-minded educators. I’ve been connecting and learning via Twitter, and sharing resources with students, parents and educators through Delicious. This was the year my feelings of isolation ended!

Robert Pondiscio:

I learned to be skeptical of those who say they “put the interest of children over adults.” If people were serious about that they’d pay a lot more attention to curriculum.

I learned that we should be paying less attention to schools as the unit of improvement in reform and more attention to individual children.

I’ve learned that we need to give low-SES parents the tools to be critical consumers of education. That will probably drive more change than any other innovation or policy prescription.

Barbara Bujtas:

I’m an EFL teacher from Hungary.

I have learned so many things I couldn’t list now.

Let’s focus on what I have learned from you and some other professionals and edubloggers. Apart from the actual things you guys all tweet and share in your blogs I have learned an important thing about cooperation. Namely that you can’t get very far without cooperation.

This may not sound any new for you, but my case is somewhat special, as I live in a small Central European country, where we used to have a strange kind of political and social system. It was called socialism and it was based on the idea of sharing everything, cooperating, so everyone was supposed to put all they had and produced in a big hat and then the contents of the hat was to be shared equally, or based on the needs of everyone. This is of course just a rough description… So during the period of this system (about 40 years) the basic idea had changed a bit, and we ended up putting everything in the big hat, and some just took out much more than they would have deserved, others couldn’t take out anything. As a consequence, people had learned not to share, not to participate, and in general, cooperation had become something really suspicious. Although the mentioned political and social system died 20 years ago, people’s attitude to cooperation doesn’t seem to have changed. Now you can understand why it is so striking to me to learn what cooperation is. The only flaw is, at this stage of my using web 2.0 (being a ‘beginner user’) I am just someone who is just taking out of the big hat of edublogging, tweeting, etc. Now I want to participate too, I will put things into the ‘big hat’ as soon as I can.

It is you who taught me the simple and well known fact that you cannot achieve your personal goals without sharing and cooperation. Of course I have known it before, but it’s this year that I ‘ve internalized it.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their insights from this past year. Please feel free to share your own in the comment section of this post.

Here are some things that I might have known in previous years, but have “crystallized” for me over the past several months:

I’m a better teacher if I look at my students through the lens of “assets” instead of “deficits.” I’m a better parent if I look at my children through the lens of “patience” instead of “control.” And I’m a better person if my priorities are “relationships” instead of “tasks.”

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to what we’ll learn in the coming year!