Categories
Teaching

5 Challenges We Overcame Moving To A Flipped Staff Meeting

flipped-staff-meeting-FIHow–And Why–We Flipped Our Teacher Staff Meetings

contributed by Amy Arbogash

Staff Meeting.

There are often no more dreaded words in a teacher’s vocabulary than those. The time we all get together to hear the principal talk about due dates, important initiatives, and the increasing workload on our plate. The place where teachers show up with papers to grade, emails to send, and conversations to catch up on. The one thing sure to not be tackled is the true task of schools –  changing a teacher’s practice and improving student learning.

So if staff meetings tend to be ineffective, boring, and repetitive, why do we continue to run them the way they have always been run?

What if teachers could go to staff meetings and be actively collaborating? What if teachers looked forward to going to staff meetings? What if teachers could leave a staff meeting having been fully engaged for its entire duration? What if staff meetings were the place to learn, innovate, and transform teaching practices?

Our schools, and education in general, are being met with transformative times. Teachers’ roles and the demand to meet the needs of all aspects of student and school life are increasing each year. Teachers are finding the need to learn new methods of teaching, including ones utilizing technology. But with change and transformation comes the need for time. Time has become an elusive resource among the educational community, and any way that we can gain time we must use to our advantage.

Working as a technology integration specialist in a middle school that is going through a digital transformation required me and my administration to look differently at the time our staff spends together. The drastic change in learning in a 1:1 classroom has been met with the need for our teachers to have time to not only learn the devices, but also write lessons, research tools, and learn new teaching methods. In order to gain the time we so desperately needed and use it more efficiently and effectively, we started flipping our staff meetings.

The teaching method of flipping classes is not new to teachers. This concept has been around for awhile, giving teachers the ability to pull informational sit-and-get out of their class time so students spend more time being active, collaborative, and creative in the classroom. So we thought why not use that same concept with teachers?

Three years ago I began working with my administration to flip our staff meetings. We record a screencast that includes all the information from the traditional staff meeting plus any staff meeting prep work and send out to the teachers the week before the meeting. Teachers watch the screencast prior to the staff meeting and get all the information they need.

This way when we gather together, the teachers are able to spend their time collaborating with colleagues on things they truly need for their classroom. This active collaboration time has revolutionized teaching and learning in our classrooms. By changing the way we deliver our staff meetings, we were able to gain 25 hours of time. Using these 25 hours over the last three years, we have effectively implemented Google Apps for Education, Schoology, 1:1 classroom iPads, flipped and blended learning, SAMR, self-pacing, twitter, and even our new school safety program.

The idea of flipping staff meetings is so flexible, it allows you to use the extra time you gain for virtually any initiative your district or school has. But one of the best aspects of being able to flip meetings is giving freedom, choice, and leadership opportunities to the teachers themselves. They gain a voice in a place where traditionally the agenda and floor was dominated by administration. Teachers actually like our staff meetings, often choosing to stay after the meeting is over to continue work or conversations. They are engaged, not just some of the time, but all of the time. Staff meetings are meaningful, helpful, productive, and relevant. They have become the place to learn, collaborate, create, and innovate.

Now I know what you are thinking. If staff meetings are so wonderfully innovative, why don’t more schools do them? Any time I have shared our work on flipping staff meetings, concerns have been raised about the challenges related to flipping staff meetings. We have also encountered these challenges, but believe working through them is worth it.

Here are some common challenges and ways we have worked to overcome them.

5 Challenges We Overcame Moving To A Flipped Staff Meeting

#1: It’s too much work.

It is a lot of work, but it’s meaningful, important work.

Like teaching and learning are transforming, so is the role of the administrator from a manager to an instructional leader. Teachers need this type of leadership now more than ever. But the good news is the principal doesn’t have to do it alone. Develop a leadership team. Teachers want to lead. Your capacity will expand with those on your team who can help to implement your ideas, and improve as a team in the process.

#2: “What will we do during the staff meeting?”

We too struggled with this in the beginning. Twenty five hours is a lot of time! Spend some time with your leadership team figuring out what is important to your school and developing a vision.

Are there initiatives that need to be implemented? Are there things teachers need to learn? What do the teachers want and/or need? Our need was in technology, but yours might be literacy or 21st-century skills or data. Once you have your vision and topics, find ways to include collaboration, active learning, creation, and teacher leaders. The important thing about flipping staff meetings is to do things during the meeting that teachers can’t do alone.

Avoid lecture at all costs.

#3: The staff won’t like it, do the work, will push back, etc.

Change is difficult.

Changing the way you do staff meetings is going to be a mindset shift for everyone. Attending a traditional staff meeting, although boring, tends to be pretty easy. You just have to sit there. And now teachers will not only have to be active during the staff meeting, but also watch a screencast prior to the meeting. My advice is to trust the process. Once everyone realizes the benefits of flipping staff meetings, people’s mindset will begin to change.

#4: “What we have always done works.”

Has it really?

Often we believe that what we do in staff meetings is helpful and beneficial for teachers, but that just isn’t the case. Ask teachers their honest opinion about staff meetings, and you don’t usually get positive answers. Ask any administrator who a staff meeting actually benefits, and if they are honest with themselves, they would say the principal–or no one at all. It makes sense to center staff meetings around, well–the staff. Administration needs to become a model and advocate for teaching and learning. Staff meetings need to change from being stagnant sit-and-get to active, collaborative, innovative work, just like we expect classrooms to be.

#5: “My principal isn’t interested in flipping staff meetings.”

This is the most difficult of all the challenges. I am very lucky to have two principals who believe in the benefits of flipping staff meetings and have stuck with it in order to see those benefits over and over again. Many principals see the above challenges and take the easy way out. So how do you convince a principal to change?

Teachers need to step up and be leaders. Bring up the idea at a committee meeting. Talk to the principal directly about initiatives teachers need time to work on. Offer your help and expertise. Talk to other teachers about the idea and form a team. Find a way to bring about change. Wherever you see an opening to advocate for the time flipping staff meetings gives you, take it. And when your principal gives it a try, be their cheerleader and positive voice in your school.

To flip or not to flip shouldn’t be the question. Instead ask yourself what you can do with all the time gained through flipping staff meetings. Time is a precious commodity that is limited. You can never get it back. It’s never too late to start using time more effectively and efficiently. Give it a try. Flip your staff meetings and watch your school transform before your very eyes.

5 Challenges We Overcame Moving To A Flipped Staff Meeting

Categories
Teaching

What Happens When Teachers Connect

what-happens-when-teachers-connect-fiWhat Happens When Teachers Connect

by Terry Heick

Digital and social media have replaced the landscape for education. This isn’t a case of mere impact or transformation–it’s all different now. Everything–the tools, the audiences, the access to content, the data, the opportunity.

And this is a displacing and replacing that will only accelerate as re-conceptualizing of the craft of teaching in light of emerging technologies and global distinctions increases. This doesn’t mean that every classroom and school and district is suddenly forward-thinking, but rather that education–and most critically, it’s students–have already changed, forever altering the tone and context for that education.

Eventually, the systems of education will catch up to this shift–will realize the world’s already changed and that no matter how iconic “School” is, nothing waits for change, It’s kind of like an old Looney Tunes episode, where Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff and keeps running until he looks down and realizes that he’s running on air and the ground is no longer beneath his feet. Full of enthusiasm, he’s lighter than air; his realization makes him fall.

Teachers As Drivers Of Change

One of the primary movers in the new context for education is technology, and the human element behind the technology that’s behind the new context? Teachers.

When teachers connect, a lot happens, subtle and overt. New pressures. New enthusiasm. New workflows. New challenges. In physics, one thing affects another. When one thing connects with another thing, something happens. In chemistry, this can be even more spectacular. Baking soda and vinegar. Fizz.

When people connect, there are also effects, and though they’re not always positive, they make the alternative–not connecting–seem like a ridiculous possibility.

What Happens When Teachers Connect

They consider new ideas.

What is that teacher doing? What are they using? Why do they believe this? Why do they use that? What can I learn from there? What can they learn from me? What do we share in common?

They have to understand.

When they meet another teacher, their brain can’t help but make sense of this person and their approach and their tools and their ways of thinking. These artifacts may or may not make their way into their own teaching, but the observation and analysis are foregone conclusions.

Further, connecting with other teachers also keeps you honest. You may be able to fool a few teachers that your students practice digital citizenship, or self-direct their own learning, or are doing amazing projects in the community. But you can’t fool them. A connected teacher has to understand–has to walk the walk, or be really good at faking it.

They’re forced to confront the limits of their own knowledge.

A teacher might think they understand project-based learning, but a single tweet or 3 minute YouTube video might help them to see that “doing projects” and learning through projects are two different things entirely. When teachers practice in isolation, this kind of self-criticism is rarely necessary.

They can learn from people with specialized knowledge.

You may be the expert on mobile technology or inquiry-based learning in your building, but then you meet Jamie Casap or realize you know less than you thought you did. Which is good. Now you can grow.

They can choose the terms of the connection.

Is it permanent? Online only? Friendly? Dialogic? Self-serving? Whimsical? When teachers connect, it makes sense that they can control the terms of nature of that connection.

They can practice empathy.

Connected teachers can benefit from empathy for the same reasons students can–making sense of another human being can only happen when you surrender your own agenda, and feel alongside and through another person and their thinking.

They can give back.

Ideally, connections go both ways; they distribute and accept. A connected teacher can give back–and the more powerful their connections and networks, the more powerful their ability to help other teachers.

They have less of an excuse to not change.

A connected teacher can’t say they “didn’t know” or “weren’t aware of” a trend, tool, or idea. (If they do, they may need to re-evaluate the quality of their connectivity.) They may or may not be more willing to rethink their own practice, but ignorance is harder to come by.

They have new knowledge demands.

When teachers connect, their ability to survey, evaluate, curate, and use that information is tested. Their ability to establish an online identity is centered. The tools and practices necessary to establish and grow their professional learning network are suddenly as important as making phone calls to parents or grading parents.

They learn to socialize their thinking.

Or at least see and hear others do so. Connected teachers have an immediate need to socialize their thinking for different audiences for different reasons. Interactions become less about talking your department members into a new idea for improving digital literacy, and more about joining an ongoing conversation that never ends.

They’ll have their thinking pushed.

They may experience peer pressure–to adapt their thinking to “the status quo.” This is neither good nor bad in and of itself (depends on what they’re thinking was, and how the “status quo” impacts it). But this is a kind of ideological peer pressure, where it nothing else, teachers have to think carefully about what they believe and why they believe it.

They adapt, assimilate, reject, or absorb a constant flow of perceptions and possibilities.

Their classrooms can become learning laboratories.

Where else do all these new ideas go?

What Happens When Teachers Connect; image attribution flickr user woodleywonderworks

Categories
Teaching

What Is A Personal Learning Network?

what-is-a-personal-learning-networkWhat Is A Personal Learning Network?

by TeachThought Staff

What is a personal learning network, or rather a Personal Learning Network? How about a Professional Learning Network?

In the video below, Marc-André Lalande offers a concise, useful definition that simplifies the idea from hashtags and movements and social engagement and badges and, well, all the buzzwords you hear, into a clear explanation that works not just within education, but any field.

“A Personal Learning Network is a way of describing the group of people that you connect with to learn their ideas, their questions, their reflections, and their references. Your PLN is not limited to online interactions, but it is that online, global interactive part that really makes it special. It is personal because you choose who’s part of that group; you choose if you want to lurk–just check out what people are saying–or if you share; because you choose when to do so, and how to do so.”

In that way, a Professional Learning Network, then, is a natural extension of the way people learn–by connecting with others who have shared interests, ideas, or resources. If the internet was, at one point, one-way–a user “logs on” to search for information or share an opinion, then “logs off” because they’re “finished”–a more progressive view could be that connectivity is omnidirectional and multi-faceted. We connect with different people with unique expertise using varied tools for authentic and constantly changing purposes.

Interestingly, that view will continue to change as technology evolves. That is, we view and define connections in light of the potential for and degrees of connectivity.

What Is A Personal Learning Network? 

Categories
The Future Of Learning

10 Reasons Every Teacher Needs A Professional Learning Network

10-reasons-syldckwrthc

10 Reasons Every Teacher Needs A Professional Learning Network

by TeachThought Staff

What’s a professional learning network?

According to Marc-André Lalande,  “a Personal Learning Network is a way of describing the group of people that you connect with to learn their ideas, their questions, their reflections, and their references.”

Your PLN is not limited to online interactions, but it is that online, global interactive part that really makes it special. It is personal because you choose who’s part of that group; you choose if you want to lurk–just check out what people are saying–or if you share; because you choose when to do so, and how to do so.”

As for this graphic? You can thank Sylvia Duckworth, who always does a great job sharing simple sketch notes to help teachers. (She also took our 12 Rules of Great Teaching and created a predictably wonderful graphic to supplement the text, among others.) We’ve taken her graphic and provided starting points for each ‘reason’ a teacher need a PLN.

Let us know in the comments if you have other suggestions!

10 Reasons Every Teacher Needs A Professional Learning Network

1. Find great resources, lesson plans, and conferences

Consider: OER Commons Resources

2. Share your resources & ideas

Consider: 23 Ways To Use The iPad In PBL

3. Following amazing educators and their blogs

Consider: 52 Education Blogs You Should Follow

4. Get support when needed

Consider: An example like clarifying the difference between ‘doing projects’ and PBL

5. Make international connections

Consider: Project-Based Learning in your classroom

6. Flatten your classroom walls

Consider: Why Learning Through Social Networks Is The Future

7. Collaborate globally on projects

Consider: 50 Ideas For Using Skype In The Classroom

8. Find round-the-clock inspiration

Consider: Follow your favorite blogs on instagram–edutopia or TeachThought for example.

9. Learn the latest trends in education

Consider: The most popular twitter hashtags in education

10. Never run out of ideas for new things to try with your students 

Consider: Shameless plug, but TeachThought Professional Development is built for exactly this kind of support.

10 Reasons Every Teacher Needs A Professional Learning Network; image attribution flickr user syvliaduckworth

Categories
The Future Of Learning

A Framework For Learning In Digital Networks

 

learning-in-digital-networksA Framework For Learning In Digital Networks

by Terry Heick

Though the constant updates can be annoying as twitter just to iterate itself towards monetization and permanent relevancy in a finicky digital landscape, among the changes I like is the ability to embed images. Other channels like tumblr have always had this, but not so with twitter. So when Sam Boswell tweeted the image above–being the right-brain idiot that I am–I clicked, and there was much irony in what I saw. A conceptual framework for learning in digital networks! (Get it? I was learning about digital networks on a digital network? Tough crowd.)

Collaborative problem-solving is a nuanced process that folds overlapping concepts and competencies together–social interaction and knowledge building. This applies to formal training through eLearning or adaptive platforms, or informal participation in social networks (e.g., twitter).

We’ve talked before about learning through social networks. The image is an artifact from a 2010 study by Patrick Griffin from the University of Melbourne in Australia. One thing that makes it interesting is the way it distinguishes between collaboration in problem-solving and learning in digital networks rather than simply making collaborative problem-solving a characteristic of learning in digital networks.

As a concept map it is basic, focused on clarity and big ideas, including skills (social and cognitive), roles (consuming and producing), and capital (social and intellectual). This framework is useful if you’re trying to make sense of how people learning together online, which has utility in K-12, post-secondary, self-directed learning, and even professional training. The idea of intellectual capital is what drives crowdsourced knowledge banks like Wikipedia, iTunesU, and even YouTube.

Ideally, these frameworks would probably be considered separately. As you design learning experiences for your students, you might consider the “collaborative problem-solving” framework to guide your design of project-based learning or challenge-based learning assignments.

Conceptual Framework For Collaborative Problem-Solving

  1. Participation [Social Skills]
  2. Perspective Taking [Social Skills]
  3. Social Regulation [Social Skills]
  4. Task Regulation [Cognitive Skills]
  5. Knowledge Building [Cognitive Skills]

Conceptual Framework For Learning In Digital Networks

  1. Consumer in social networks [Learning in Digital Social Networks]
  2. Producer in social networks [Learning in Digital Social Networks]
  3. Social capital through networks [Learning in Digital Social Networks]
  4. Intellectual capital–collective intelligence in networks [Learning in Digital Social Networks]

 A Framework For Learning In Digital Networks

Categories
Technology

A Balanced Approach To Social Media For Teachers

4 Tips For A Balanced Approach To Social Media For TeachersA Balanced Approach To Social Media For Teachers

by Laura Farmer

Sitting at night, in front of my computer, I look at my image on Twitter. I skim through all my hundreds of tweets. Suddenly, I start to panic. What am I doing? I feel like a fake, a phony. I flip over to my description, and read it slowly. It states, I’m an innovator, passionate about technology, and leadership. Am I any of those things, really? Is Twitter just an illusion to make me feel better about myself or get more followers?

Thoughts race through my mind, and suddenly, I type in the key words–social media and narcissism–in the Google search engine. I skim through the articles, “Yes…yes….yes…that is me!” I am an overly self-involved person who only thinks of ways to promote myself! So, I decide immediately to disengage from all media: Facebook, Blogger, and yes…even Twitter.

Call it a moment of weakness, an identity crisis, or just plain craziness, in that moment it all made sense.

Over the next week, social media free, I reevaluated. My theory? A bad case of social media overload. Once summer break began, I constantly read the latest and hottest trends in education through blogs and twitter feeds regarding innovation, technology integration, and leadership. In some misguided way, I began to feel that I needed to be passionate about all of those elements to be a great teacher. Of course, I was wrong. It was too much, and I’d lost site of what I was best at.

So, how do we stretch ourselves, as educators, without losing our educational identity, or our minds for that matter? How can we improve without driving ourselves crazy, going numb, or unplugging completely?

4 Tips For A Balanced Approach To Social Media For Teachers

1. Find a niche

First, let’s keep it focused. Instead of trying to be all things innovative, maybe we should try focusing on learning one new technology for next year. Spend time researching that for the summer, so it can be great. Vicky Davis, on Twitter @coolcatteacher, has a fantastic blog with loads of ideas. Studying her contributions alone could set the course for a more innovative year. @teachthought focuses on rethinking how people learn in light of modern technology. #edutopia focuses on project-based learning.

Whatever example you follow, choose a niche and be great at it.

2. Be yourself

Secondly, know that it’s okay to be you. Spending time on Twitter overwhelms most teachers that I’ve worked with, novice and veteran. It’s important to know that you don’t have to identify with any particular #(hashtag) to be a great teacher. However, we shouldn’t give up on developing a professional learning network (PLN) through Twitter altogether. Twitter is a great way to network, and learn from other educators who share similar passions and interests. It helps to keep the creativity going in the classroom.

3. Create a mission

Ask yourself, what would I like to learn from Twitter? What is my purpose? Write down a few ideas, and then narrow it to one particular theme such as technology or a content area. Then, go ahead and open an account, write a brief description or none at all. Next, set a time limit every day at the same time during the day.  Personally, I’ve limited my Twitter reading to the morning for 15 minutes, and evening for 30 minutes.  It keeps me focused on my learning, and limits my tweets.  Additionally, stay focused on following only the educators who will help you stretch according to your mission as a teacher. Don’t follow someone just because he or she is popular, stick with your personal learning mission.

4. Bend but don’t break

Finally, stretch your educational pedagogy–bend, but don’t break. By taking on and reading too much, too soon, you risk turning your already enriching curriculum on its head, and your passion for teaching in the process.  Start small, don’t worry about keeping up with the proverbial Joneses of classroom technology innovation, and pick one technology to add flair to the curriculum you’ve developed over your career.

Take a deep breathe, and know that you are a fabulous teacher; the methods work. Just find one way to stretch it further for the upcoming school year, and you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Laura Farmer is a middle grades teacher in Newnan, Georgia, who loves teaching, and considers it a privilege to be part of the educational community. She blogs her joys, struggles, and discoveries of the classroom at middlegradesteacher.blogspot.com. She can be followed on Twitter @happyeducators.

Categories
Teaching

How To Help Teachers Create Their Own Professional Development

help-teachers-create-own-pd-c

How To Help Teachers Create Their Own Professional Development

by Terry Heick

Traditional teacher professional development depends on external training handed down to teachers after having identified their weaknesses as a professional.

If you’re not so great at teacher writing, or if assessment is becoming a bigger focus in your school or district, you fill out a growth plan of some sort, attend your training, get your certificates, and repeat until you’ve got your hours or your school has run out of money to send you to more training.

Oftentimes these “professional growth plans” are scribbled out in 15 minute meetings with your principal, then “revisited” at the end of the year as a kind of autopsy. What would happen if we flipped this model on its head? What if instead we created a teacher-centered, always-on, and social approach to teacher improvement? One that connected them with dynamic resources and human communities that modeled new thinking and possibility, and that crucially built on their strengths?

The idea here isn’t simply that educators can improve by connected through social networks–they already are doing that. Rather, that schools can decentralize the teacher training effort by cutting them loose and supporting their self-directed efforts through an array of resources. The purpose of this post, beyond clarifying some how social media-driven and self-directed teacher professional development might work, is to offer some (mostly) concrete ideas for actually getting started designing such a program in your school or district. We would love to hear any suggestions in the comments because, well, that’d be social of you.

Also, note that none of this precludes national level conferences, on-site PD, and the like. These more central and formal solutions should continue to be powerful PD tools. In fact, a flipped professional development program–one that is self-directed, always-on, and social–could help inform the kinds of conferences and on-site PD most relevant and authentic to your local circumstances.

How To Help Teachers Create Their Own Professional Development

1. Establish a compelling big idea –then stick to it

This can be thought of as a mission or theme, but it’s really more of a tone and purpose. One example could be “To help teachers create always-on development that connects them with networks and builds on their natural strengths and interests.” Then–and this is the critical part–refer back to that constantly as you make decisions that might impact the program. This is your lighthouse.

You can revise this big idea as necessary, but be careful not to drift too far away from it or you will end up right back where you started: one size fits all, top-down, corporate-driven garbage that almost everyone on your staff despises no matter how much they smile.

2. Set the ground rules

You could probably call this a policy, but it’s the non-policy policy—just some basic rules and a common language to make sure everyone is starting and finishing at the same point.

Here you should explain how training will be qualified and quantified–or if it will be qualified or quantified. Also, you’ll emphasize the big idea so it’s crystal-clear—personalizing educator training through self-directed and social media-based professional development. Flexibility and innovation here matter more than uniformity

3. Diversify professional development sources

This is the anti-program program. Less about experts and more about staff capacity. To achieve a self-sustaining, always-on program, the program has to be turned over to the teachers through dozens of sources, from books and district resources to blogging and social media.

And not all teachers will be chomping at the bit to hop on twitter to beat the bushes—so give them somewhere to start. Maybe a challenge during a staff meeting:

  • Find five apps for struggling readers, a book, two articles on better literacy, and a streaming webinar…bonus if you can find a literacy framework that can make sense of it all. Then find an elegant way to curate and share it all with the school (that is not blocked by our district filter)

4. Create a pilot or template that works for teachers

Pilot it in one department or grade level at first to work out the bugs, the factors you didn’t consider, and to better understand how it might work yourself. You may find this new open approach to PD confuses folks, and that’s okay. Simply go back to steps one and two.

5. Connect teachers

Connect teachers from different schools or districts—even in different states or countries—to not only improve the diversity of resources, but naturally expand professional learning networks in the process. These connections will catalyze the effort as you move on. Relationships and curiosity will take a teacher further than a policy or minimal requirement.

The point of this whole thing is staff capacity, not corrective training.

6. Focus on student learning

When evaluating efforts, offering training, or discussing the process one on one, focus on the effects of the content rather than the medium or the source. The idea here hasn’t changed—improved learning for students via improved teacher efficacy. The whole point is the “stuff”–strategies, tools, and thinking–that ends up in instructional design, curriculum, assessment, classrooms, teacher-student interactions, and ultimately “student achievement.”

This, then, should be the focus of the program, not social media or meeting minimum requirements.

7. Celebrate teacher strengths & interests

Teachers need to see themselves as craftspersons–skilled and passionate professionals who are all exceptional somewhere. Strengths could be collaboration with colleagues, assessment design, classroom management, curriculum development, or other traditional educational pillars. But they also might be character-driven artifacts as well–flexibility, creativity, service attitude, and so on.

How? Have them describe one another. Use team-building games that make it okay to brag. Promote reflection and metacognition. Provide a template they can “fill in” that helps them see what they do, when they do it, and why. Then highlight any talents, share them out, and celebrate them.

This maybe should come a bit earlier–or be visible at every step. Traditional PD focuses on correcting weaknesses. Certainly teachers need to continue to train themselves to close gaps in their ability to lead students to learning. But building a program around weakness and deficiency doesn’t do much to rally the troops–and isn’t sustainable in an always-on, self-directed approach.

8. Plan to iterate 

Whatever you do the first year will be a trainwreck (compared to the nice and tidy sit-and-get PD). So from the beginning, everyone should be aware that it’s all a work in progress—just like the profession itself.

Perhaps the greatest potential here is in the chance to personalize professional development for teachers. The above ideas are too vague to be considered an exact guide, but an “exact guide” really isn’t possible without ending up with something as top-heavy and standardized as the process it seeks to replace–or at least supplement. Instead focus on the big ideas–personalizing educator training through self-directed and social media-based professional development.

Image attribution flickr user stevegarfield

Categories
Podcast

Ep. 35 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 2 of 2)

Ep. 35 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 2 of 2)

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 35 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with Dr. Richard DuFour, in this second part of two podcasts, about his new book In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better, the state of American education and how to make Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) more effective.


Listen to Ep. 34 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities With Dr. Richard DuFour (Part 1 Of 2)

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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

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Ep. 35 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 2 of 2)

Categories
Podcast

Ep. 34 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 1 of 2)

TT podcast art DuFour

Ep. 34 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 1 of 2)

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 34 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with Dr. Richard DuFour, in this first part of two podcasts, about his new book In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better, the state of American education and how to make Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) more effective.

Listen to Ep. 35 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities With Dr. Richard DuFour (Part 2 Of 2)

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

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itunes button

Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

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Ep. 34 Growing Better Professional Learning Communities with Dr. Richard DuFour (part 1 of 2)

Categories
Technology

What To Do On Twitter: 50 Ideas For Teachers

twitter-breaking

What To Do On Twitter: 50 Ideas For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

This post has been updated and republished from a 2013 post.

  1. Send a link.
  2. Express an opinion.
  3. Follow innovative thought leaders.
  4. Stalk conversations between people you respect.
  5. Retweet a helpful link.
  6. Respond to someone else’s tweet.
  7. Have students use a tweet in a research project, then cite it using MLA rules.
  8. See what your peers are complaining about.
  9. Buy 5000 followers for $5, then wonder what on earth you’ve done.
  10. Get ideas for technology integration.
  11. Categorize twitter accounts by content using lists.
  12. Send a picture of your classroom with twitpic.
  13. Ask for pictures of other classrooms.
  14. Communicate with parents.
  15. Follow a twitter chat via #hashtag.
  16. Search for older messages (old = last week or so) to gauge “what educators are saying” about a particular topic–#21stedchat, for example. Or rather, what they were saying last week.
  17. Thank someone for their time, content, or collaboration.
  18. Organize a local-ish meet-up of local tweeps.
  19. Commit to never using the word tweeps again.
  20. Analyze emerging trends.
  21. Try to understand a complex idea by capturing it entirely in 140 characters. (Go on, try it.)
  22. See what your peers are curious about.
  23. Procrastinate when you should be researching, writing, grading, or planning. After all, twitter is research.
  24. Wonder what the world was like before twitter.
  25. Give an exam by asking open-ended questions which must be then revised, refined, and articulated in the very transparent domain of twitter.
  26. Encourage mentors or PLN members to observe and chime-in to said “open” exam with feedback.
  27. Curate resources by clicking relevant links, then saving with Evernote, pocket, Pearltrees, or another social bookmarking tool.
  28. Follow 10,000 people just to watch the absolutely ridiculous stream of tweets pour down your screen like a crazy digital waterfall.
  29. Ask an expert a question with @ messaging.
  30. Direct message someone a “hand-typed” (as opposed to automated) message as a show of support.
  31. Challenge an idea.
  32. Play devil’s advocate.
  33. Butt-in to a conversation that has nothing to do with you, and be abrasive about it. (Watch your follow count drop, and be sure grin devilishly when you get blocked.)
  34. Support a cause.
  35. Brainstorm with global educators to solve a local problem.
  36. Brainstorm with local educators to solve a global problem.
  37. Give exposure to under-exposed content.
  38. Listen to students.
  39. Start a new #hashtag.
  40. Revive “old” tweets worth revisiting.
  41. Start with a broad question, then collaboratively refine it until you’ve gotten at the right question. (This can be done with students or other educators.)
  42. Treat twitter like a personal text message service full single words and initialisms, e.g., “LOL!” and “IKR!” to one person.
  43. Or don’t.
  44. Promote your favorite learning platform by explaining how educators might use it.
  45. Research an idea.
  46. Lurk endlessly.
  47. Gather the general consensus on an issue.
  48. Read tweets from the perspective of new audiences—what would parents, politicians, students, business leaders, etc., think of tweeted edu-content.
  49. Watch what is “trending” when, and why.
  50. Pay attention to the differences in content that gets shared via RT, favorited, and responded to.

 

Categories
Podcast Teaching

Ep. 23 Teacher Of The Year: Defining And Measuring Teachers

TT podcast art TOTY

Ep. 23 Teacher Of The Year: Defining And Measuring Teachers

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 23 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with makers of the documentary Teacher of the Year, Jason Korreck and Rob Philips, about their film which explores the complexity of the teaching profession.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

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Ep. 23 Teacher Of The Year: Defining And Measuring Teachers

Categories
Podcast

Ep. 22 Education And Entrepreneurship With Dyme Startup Founder Joey Prather

TT podcast art Joey Prather

Ep. 22 Education And Entrepreneurship With Dyme Startup Founder Joey Prather

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 22 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with Dyme startup founder Joey Prather about the parallels between the startup and the education worlds and how being more entrepreneurial can benefit teaching and learning.

teach thought PD

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Subscribe

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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

If so, please join over 20,000 people who receive weekly content from TeachThought via their inbox, and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Ep. 22 Education And Entrepreneurship With Dyme Startup Founder Joey Prather

Categories
Teaching

How I Took Control Over My Own Professional Development

usdeptedu1c

How I Took Control Over My Own Professional Development

or ‘The Real World Masters In Education’

by John Otterstedt

Every so often, someone would tell me that I should get another degree. The reason was always the same – I would  move up the salary guide.

I wanted to move up the salary guide, yet at the same time, I wasn’t going to waste a year or two of my life in pursuit of a few extra bucks. If I was going back to school, it would be for two reasons:

  • to be inspired
  • to be a better teacher

When I glanced over the degree programs offered by my local university, my eyes glazed over. I imagined it was the same glazed-over feeling kids get when the teacher shares a daily plan of “reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.” Been there, done that.

I wanted something that would excite me – something that would take me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be pushed in new directions. Something epic.  That is when I stumbled across a blog post by Tim Ferriss entitled: “How to Create Your Own Real World MBA.” I wasn’t interested in an MBA, but the “create your own” aspect sucked me in.  

Like me, Ferriss was uninspired by the thought of graduate school. Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars on tuition, he decided to learn about investing by becoming an investor. He took the money that would have gone to graduate school and created an angel investment firm. Needless to say, Tim was happy with the results.

I decided to go for it.

As I sketched out my plan for my “real world masters in education,” I realized that I couldn’t do it in a bubble. I needed to bring others along for the ride. My program would have three main components:

  1. DISCOVER: I wanted to soak up ideas that would nurture, inspire, and transform me.  
  2. CREATE: I would create new units of study, as well as new learning spaces in my classroom.
  3. SHARE: I would step into the world of social media, share my learning, and make friends along the way.

I decided that the core of my “real world masters in education” would be a podcast, cultivatinggreatness.org. Although I would read books, I wanted real human interaction. Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I decided to contact the most interesting people I could find and ask them the questions that I always wanted to ask. I found a mix of educators, humanitarians and entrepreneurs, and I tried to see what I could learn from each. I went into the project with the belief that anyone’s life experience and insights could help inform my classroom instruction – and I was right.

At the same time, I started a Twitter account (@johnotterstedt) and proceeded to familiarize myself with the platform. I spent some time lurking, but eventually became a more active contributor. As I followed more accounts, something started happening that I hadn’t anticipated. I began uncovering articles and blogs on a wide array of topics that I hadn’t given much thought to previously. I became deeply inspired by the content I found, as well as by the people who posted it. With each passing week, it became easier and easier to find guests for my podcast because Twitter was overflowing with bright, articulate, and thought-provoking people.

Thanks to Twitter, my learning expanded beyond the computer screen. After seeing countless references to #edcamp, I decided to attend their event in New Jersey on a whim. I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be a transformational experience. The teacher-led staff development day inspired me to ask my principal if we could integrate components of it in our monthly faculty meetings. He agreed, and thus ignited yet another unintended victory for the “real world masters in education” program.

In the 3 months since I embarked on this journey, my classroom has undergone a significant change. My teacher desk was removed to make way for a small TV studio. Beside the studio is our new makerspace. Our first “maker” project was the creation of a PVC sound effects cube, which is a structure adorned with functioning instruments that a child can enter and use to bring a story to life.  We even included a hanging spray bottle so that a quick spray can bring a rainy day story to life! If you continue your journey around the room, you will meet the tables we covered with whiteboards. And there are more plans on the horizon!

The classroom renovations gave way to another idea, trickedoutclassrooms.com. It is a fun little site where I post pictures of unique classrooms. I hope that the photos and stories will inspire other teachers to take a long look at how they are using their classroom space.

All of this has occurred in a 90 day window. I can honestly say that I have learned more and reached a level of inspiration that I couldn’t have achieved had I opted for graduate school. I admit that I have spent more money on things to fuel my obsession (domain names, server space, tech equipment) than I had anticipated, but the expenses have been minor in the grand scheme of things.

If you feel uninspired or stagnant in your growth as a teacher, consider creating your own “real world masters in education” program. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Voxer will give you access to countless people who share your interests, and the best news is that most will be excited to collaborate. Sites like TeachThought and Edutopia will push your thinking in new directions, while you will have a multitude of blogging and podcast options should you choose to share your knowledge in those formats.

It’s all there waiting for you.

Adapted image attribution flickr user usdepartmentofeducation; How I Took Control Over My Own Professional Development

Categories
Podcast Teaching Technology

Ep. 15: Teaching And Learning vs. Accountability With @justintarte

tt-podcast-rect-2

Ep. 15: Teaching And Learning vs. Accountability With @justintarte

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 15 of the TeachThought Podcast!

In this episode Drew Perkins (Director of Professional Development at TeachThought) talks with Justin Tarte–Director of Teaching and Learning and Accountability at the Union R-XI School District in Union, Missouri–about balancing teaching and learning and accountability, social media, and moving from consumption to creation to contribution.

teach thought PD

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Subscribe

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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

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Ep. 15: Teaching And Learning vs. Accountability With @justintarte

Categories
Archived

Nano-Professional Development: 20 Quick Courses For Teachers

benefits-of-college-degree

Nano-Professional Development: 20 Quick Courses For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

Professional development can come from a variety of sources–conversation, books, blogs, social media, YouTube, and more–courses, for example. Nanocourses, more specifically.

What’s most appealing about these courses is the low time-investment necessary, combined with the visual elements–examples, models, and other explanations to support what’s being explained. All but two of the following courses for teachers are 5 hours or less in length, and can supplement your reading and school-based PD usefully.

Also note, though we have gone in and hand-picked these courses for relevance and even instructors (Monica Burns, who has published on both TeachThought and edutopia, is among the instructors), these are also affiliate links, which means we get a small percentage of any purchase you might make. To keep this from happening, you can simply go directly to udemy.com and search for the specific course.

Update: The courses are on sale through November 27. There is a kind of urgency to the sale, as the price increases a dollar a day (so Monday, November 23 they’ll be $13, Tuesday they’ll be $14, and so on).

Nano-Professional Development: 20 Quick Courses For Teachers

1. The Power Of Play

Time To Complete: 2 Hours

This course will give you the knowledge you need to support your children as well as you possibly can. We will illustrate techniques that will help you know when and how to support your children’s creative play. And we’ll give you some new play ideas that are great fun to put into practice.

  • The difference between various play styles
  • How play impacts on early learning and development
  • How to identify if children need encouragement in other types of play
  • What to do if you spot obstacles to play in the setting
  • Four practical techniques to encourage your children to think and play more creatively

2. How To Use Google Classroom

Time To Complete: 3 Hours

Are you a teacher in a Google Apps for Education district? If not, will you be going Google soon? If so, take advantage of this course on the Google Classroom. Teachers of all levels; elementary, secondary, post-secondary will benefit from using Google Classroom as an online learning platform. This is a comprehensive course covering topics from the basics of classroom, to how you can use it with your students, to lessons to teach your students how to use the application to a final side-by-side view of the teacher and student platforms.

  • Create and customize a Google Class; Add and remove students from a class
  • Create and distribute assignments; Grade and change the point value of assignments; Give feedback to students
  • Create a class resource page; Access the classroom folder on the Google Drive
  • Log in and join a class as a student; Change account settings as a student
  • Complete and turn in assignments as a student; View returned assignments as a student

3. Moving Beyond Compliance: Classroom Manangement

Time To Complete: 5 Hours

This effective classroom management course presents an alternative classroom management approach rooted in intrinsic motivation and designed to create a learning environment in which children work hard, work together, and work with purpose.

  • Course Goal: By the end of the course, you will be able to implement a progressive approach to classroom management that fosters responsibility, nurtures intrinsic motivation, and brings out the best in students.
  • Course Objectives: National Board Certified Teacher Steve Reifman will present a series of classroom-tested ideas, strategies, activities, and resources that will help teachers:
  • • encourage students to invest their hearts and minds in the class mission
  • • establish a strong sense of purpose in their classrooms so that students find meaning in their work, experience joy, and understand the many reasons why pursuing an education matters so much for their futures
  • • empower students with lasting habits of mind and habits of character

4. Apps For Librarians & Educators

Time To Complete: 4 Hours

As librarians and educators, we are passionate about learning and access to information for all. Contrary to the popular idea that apps are only useful for “consumption,” the best mobile apps are being used effectively as tools to enable learning and knowledge creation.

  • Understand how tablets are complementary to and different from laptops, and how their capabilities are creating new learning opportunities.
  • Understand how apps are being used by people with special needs, and get access to resources for learning more.
  • Get inspiration for creating your own app guides, offering workshops, and advising colleagues.
  • Get up to speed quickly: watch video demos and follow along on your own mobile device

5. Integrating Technology In The Classroom

Time To Complete: 5 Hours

Learn how to use free/low cost technology tools for teaching and learning in your classroom. Keep up-to-date with latest tech tools curated by an instructional technology expert.

  • Understand the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
  • Create Digital Stories
  • How to use Photo Story 3
  • How to use and create videos with Movie Maker
  • How to use and create videos with Wevideo

6. Use iPads & Twitter In The Classroom To Enrich Learning

Time To Complete: 2 Hours

For the beginner or expert, this course demonstrates how to use microblogging and Twitter as a classroom learning tool.  The techniques shown in the step by step videos capitalize on the power of the iPad and Twitter to enrich learning activities in your classroom.

  • Extend your learning activities beyond the time and space of your classroom
  • Search, filter and find valuable topical resources and colleagues
  • Create and send microblog entries using Twitter
  • Capitalize on the features and functions of the iPad in multiple learning activities

7. Using QR Codes In The Classroom

Time To Complete: 2 Hours

This course is for educators with access to a variety of mobile technology who are looking to use QR codes to differentiate and energize their lessons. Participants will learn how to make QR codes and use them to create engaging, differentiated lessons for their students. The material is appropriate for teachers in K-12 classrooms.

  • In this course, you will learn how to make QR codes.
  • In this course, you will learn how to design activities for differentiated instruction.
  • In this course, you will learn how to use QR codes to energize your lessons.

8. The iPad Toolkit For Teachers

Time To Complete: 6 Hours

This course guides teachers through a variety of iPad tools that help them understand how to use the iPad, use the iPad as a tool for themselves as professionals and use the iPad as a way of interacting and communicating with students.

  • By the end of this course, you will be able to use the iPad as an organizational tool
  • By the end of this course, you will be able to use the iPad in order to communicate and collaborate with students
  • By the end of this course, you will know how to use various iPad productivity apps

9. Moodle Tutorial Development

Time To Complete: 3 Hours

Moodle Tutorial Development will show you how to teach online using Moodle through a series of informative and incredibly detailed video screencasts. Learn how to make the most out of Moodle by following along with detailed video demonstrations covering how to configure and use Moodle’s features to create an e-learning site designed to meet your learner’s needs. By the time you complete the Moodle Tutorial Development video course you’ll be able to create an e-learning site that will enhance your teaching and provide a better learning experience for your students.

  • Learn about Moodle’s potential and how to get started with an overview of various hosting and installation options
  • Setup your Moodle site and make it available to users after it’s been installed on a web server
  • Create course sites and make them available by enrolling students and assigning teachers
  • Make static resources such as files or web pages available to your learners
  • Produce more interactive e-learning courses with course materials such as quizzes, lessons, and SCORM tutorials

10. Teach With Your iPad, Part 1

Time To Complete: 1 Hour

Some courses for teachers are quick. This one is for educators with access to a single iPad who are looking to use this technology to instruct, assess and manage their classroom. Participants will learn how free and low-cost apps can revolutionize their instruction.

  • By the end of this course, you will be able to use free and low-cost apps with a single iPad to instruct, assess, and manage a classroom of students.
  • In this course, you will learn how to instruct a class using one iPad.
  • In this course, you will learn how to assess a class using one iPad.
  • In this course, you will learn how to manage a class using one iPad.

11. Prezi For Educators

Time To Complete: 2 Hours

Use PowerPoint all the time? Sounds boring! Spice up your presentations and bolster them with creativity. Allow your students to create mind boggling presentations. Prezi is for everyone. Prezi can be intimidating for first time users. However, it is really easy to master. This course will teach you fundamentals of Prezi with Educators and Teachers in mind.

  • How to acquire an Educational License
  • Mastering the Prezi interface
  • How to Draw “Frames, Arrows, and Lines” and add “Symbols, Shapes, and Diagrams”
  • How to add Videos, Background Music, and Voice-overs to Prezi; add PowerPoint & PDF Files to Prezi
  • How to use sharing and collaboration tools such as remote presentation

12. Teach with the iPad – Inspire, Engage and Mentor with EdTech

Time To Complete: 5 Hours

This iPad course is unique in that it not only highlights some of the best educational iPad apps available, but it also shows you how to implement the iPad into your classroom and how to use the iPad as a highly-effective teaching tool. The iPad is quickly becoming the most innovative and exciting technology-based teaching tool to come along in years. Many schools across the country have purchased iPads for their students however comprehensive and essential training to properly utilize the full power of the iPad and its best educational apps is not available.

  • How iPads and how they work in the classroom
  • How to use the iPad for assessment
  • How you can use the iPad and iPad apps in daily lessons
  • Create an iPad program
  • Introduction to flip teaching and flip teaching app

13. Camtasia Mastery

Time To Complete: 8 Hours

Flipped Classroom? Camtasia Mastery is for everyone who uses Camtasia Studio to make videos. From beginners learning what the program is about, to experienced users who want to learn how to take animations and hosting to the next level, this course has loads of information for learners of all experience levels.

  • Understand the complete process for properly creating teaching and learning videos, from idea to completed video
  • Learn tips and tricks to produce videos faster
  • Plan a video, including the audience, the steps, and the script
  • Record a screencast (a computer screen recording) and voice to accompany the video
  • Produce the final video and share it online

14. Creating Video Content For The Classroom

Time To Complete: 3 Hours

Ready, Set, Record: Creating Video Content for the Classroom is a step-by-step comprehensive guide to tackling the process of creating original video content. Producing original video content can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. This course will give you the skills to produce your own professional videos without the headache of learning by trial-and-error.

  • Equipment recommendations for creating professional videos
  • Strategies and recommendations to decrease the amount of time you spend editing
  • Best practices to help you plan, organize, and record your video
  • Tools to improve the sound quality of your videos
  • Access to collaborate with other content creators and receive valuable feedback on your videos

15. Engage Your Audience With Unforgettable Storytelling

Time To Complete: 5.5 Hours

The tradition of Storytelling is as old as language itself, and throughout the ages has been used to communicate wisdom and understanding from one generation to another. So, what makes a good story? What are the common elements of good storytelling? The course begins by breaking down storytelling’s secret underpinnings, hidden meanings and exploring the dynamic relationship between you, the story & your intended audience.

  • Understand practical methods for building, capturing and maintaining your audience’s attention.
  • Develop your stories so that they’re more enjoyable to tell, and more enjoyable to hear.
  • Transform your ability to positively influence your employees, your children, your audience and others.
  • Accurately assess the expectations of your audience and engage with them effectively.
  • Understand the psychology of storytelling.

OTHER COURSES

Ed note: This post contains affiliate links, which means we could receive a small % of any purchase you make. Although these are affiliate links, we hand-picked the courses for fit and relevancy.

Nano-Professional Development: 20 Quick Courses For Teachers

Categories
Podcast

The TeachThought Podcast Ep 5: Jennifer Gonzales

tt-podcast-rect-2

The TeachThought Podcast Ep 5: Jennifer Gonzales 

by TeachThought Staff

This is episode 5 of the TeachThought Podcast!

In this episode I talk to Jennifer Gonzales from the Cult of Pedagogy website. In this conversation, we talk about where she’s from, how to pronounce “pedagogy,” and how and why it’s useful to connect with other teachers.

We also take about the struggles of teaching in a non-progressive district, (on a non-related note) booze, Germany, and even manage to make the conversation edu-relevant by beginning to discuss personalized learning before we had to cut the conversation short.

We’re trying to schedule again with her soon. For now, here is my conversation with Jennifer.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Subscribe

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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to AskTeachThought.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

If so, please join over 20,000 people who receive weekly content from TeachThought via their inbox, and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Categories
Teaching

4 Tips For Smarter Collaboration With Resource Teachers

collaborating-with-resource-teachers4 Tips For Smarter Collaboration With Resource Teachers

by Dan Henderson, Author of That’s Special: A Survival Guide To Teaching

It was an arranged work marriage spurred on by the ceremonial job fair.

Two principals were swapping teachers as casually as goats in a dowry. This was the last job fair before the school year, and these teachers were either inexperienced or lemons. The lemon dance squeezed out Paul to our elementary school. Eliza, an experienced teacher, was weary of this arranged marriage when Paul’s first question to ignite their foray was “When is lunch?”

Eliza stares at her countdown till summer calendar in her classroom. The dismal number 163 taunts her in blood red ink. Eliza witnesses her first graders dare each other to lick their names on the table.  The first grader laughed as Todd’s lips open making a smacking sound. The tip of his tongue makes first contact with the table. Mumbling and laughing simultaneously he writes, Todd on the table. Eliza asks Todd to repent, but the saliva has already melted through the first two floors of the school. Carefully crafted ham and cheese sandwiches from loving moms are garnished with Todd’s saliva.

This was not the condiment of choice.

Collaborating With Resource Teachers Isn’t Rocket Science

This gross dare has one positive outcome. Eliza recently bought stock in Clorox wipes. Eliza’s post teaching career was to be a spokesperson for Clorox. Buy Clorox wipes, because no one ever told you that being a mom involves cleaning saliva off your furniture.

Eliza looks at the clock, 1:30pm. “Where is my inclusion teacher? Where is Paul?” Eliza thought.

Eliza hears Paul running up the stairwell. He bursts open the door disturbing all the busy bees working hard at their desks.

“Am I late?” Paul asks sheepishly. Looking at the clock, Paul starts to blush. Eliza got the short end of the dowry.

“Late, Late, it’s 1:30! You were suppose to be hear at 1pm. Not only did you miss the center with your students but don’t you have to get to your next class?” Eliza pauses hoping this newbie understands the importance of timeliness.

Paul looks down at the ground in shame.

“Well, why were you so late?” Eliza demands.

“The deli six blocks away has really good pastrami sandwiches.”

Eliza realizes that falling test scores in the U.S. are not because of lack of funding or adequate education but because of the power of the pastrami on rye.

4 Tips For Collaboration With Resource Teachers

1. Use A Schedule

And try to stick to it.

Yes, resource teachers have meetings and paperwork through the yin yang, but the students come first. Actually, by law, the hours agreed upon per week or month are a legal binding document. Special education teachers who habitually miss hours of instruction can only make up so much time in the week. This sacred instructional time needs to be honored, and all efforts must be made to protect the special education instructional time with their students.

You also may need to make up time. The special education teacher will be late. They may be dealing with a student in crisis or just be out sick. When setting up the schedule, plan for extra hours in the week in case you have to make up hours. If the special education teacher does not need them, they can use them for extra planning time.

The give and take of your arranged marriage has to work for you. Respecting each others time is the cornerstone. If the principal can throw in a llama to the dowry, then your inclusion marriage will be that much sweeter.

2. Clarify The IEP Items & Goals

The special education teacher should provide an IEP to the general education teacher (among other staff). The program should list goals and rubrics for how each of the goals is to be measured. The general education teacher and the special education teacher need to work together to accomplish the student’s IEP goals. But how?

3. Actually Collaborate

Collaboration is not a pointless meeting. Many times students with learning disabilities need the material presented in a different way. A simplification of the steps and the appropriate re-arrangement of the curriculum can only be done though collaboration. How can you adapt a lesson on long division if the special education teacher has not seen the lesson plans?

4. Focus on the student’s strengths

Far too often, the special education student’s strengths are not being used.

Self-esteem is as foundational to teaching as food and water. I always start a lesson off with a topic or problem the student will be guaranteed to get correct.  Motivating the students by positive re-direction of what they can do builds up momentum for them to tackle difficult problems ahead. Instead of seeing the child as a concern, talk to your students about their strengths. Find the positive attributes in your students instead of labeling them a problem. To sum it up…

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Anonymous 

You can find more about the book That’s Special: A Survival Guide To Teaching on facebook ; 4 Tips For Collaboration With Resource Teachers; 4 Tips For Smarter Collaboration With Resource Teachers

Categories
Teaching

Blogging Your Way To Connected Professional Development

vancouverfilmschool-pd-fi-2Blogging Your Way To Connected Professional Development

by Mike Fisher

Professional learning, even 15 years into the 21st Century, still tends to lean toward a “one size fits all” model. Educators go to workshops, participate in local PD, or read professional books. While the information gained may be valuable, it isn’t always completely relevant to contemporary teachers who need solutions and actions that are just in time rather than just in case.

One way to approach just in time professional learning and to get connected to other educators that care about the same issues you care about is to start reading and writing blogs. Blogs represent an opportunity for educators to not only connect to others and but also to personalize their professional development based on what is relevant and specific to their instructional practices and professional needs.

Blogging represents opportunities to start conversations, share professional stories, share new ideas, take a stand on an issue, or carve out a professional niche. When you write blogs, you share unique perspectives on your experiences. When you read blogs, you discover unique ways to improve your professional practice. When you respond to blogs you’ve read or interact with respondents on blogs you wrote, you open up a whole new world of professional communication and collaboration opportunities.

Reading, Writing, and Responding to blogs leads to conversations, other writings and professional resources, and sometimes, even real life meetings. This level of connectivity isn’t dependent on anything external that one might have to wait on: published books, future scheduled workshops, year-end assessment data, etc. You only need a little bit of time and a device to plug into this already available network.

If you’re looking to get started with professional learning through reading blogs that are relevant to your interests or subject areas, look to ASCD EDge, Jerry Blumengarten’s CybraryMan Resources, Smartblogs on Education, TeachThought, Teach100, and Curriculum 21’s ClearinghouseYou could also consider writing your own blog using a variety of services: Blogger, WordPress, Edublogs, or ASCD EDge.

Reading and writing blogs gives educators fresh opportunities for relevant information and connections to other professionals who have similar interests. As we begin Connected Educator Month, blogs are a wonderful way to connect, interact, learn, and share as a Networked Contemporary Educator.

Download a free copy of Mike Fisher’s book, Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st century work?, courtesy of Mike and ASCD as a limited-time offer for Connected Educator Month (CEM) 2015. ASCD is leading the CEM theme, “Innovations in Professional Learning,” and will be sharing free and discounted resources all month.

Mike Fisher is a former teacher who is now a full-time author, consultant, and instructional coach. He is the author of Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st Century Work? and the co-author of Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students, both published by ASCD. He works with schools around the country, helping to sustain curriculum upgrades, design curriculum, and modernize instruction in immersive technology. His website is The Digigogy Collaborative and he can also be found on Twitter as @fisher1000