#IMMOOC Week 4 – Time for Reflection

8-things-to-look-for-in-todays-classroom-badura

One prompt from this week’s challenge is “What elements of the “8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classrooms” exist in your professional learning? What elements are lacking?”

First, I have to admit that I am finally catching up on my reading of the book.  I have been enjoying looking at tweets, others’ blogs, and the weekly live shows, but had not spent much time with the book.  Normally, when I sit down to read, I much prefer fiction.  I value nonfiction tremendously, but have a difficult time skipping over the latest novel I’m reading to pick up nonfiction.  But I’m so glad I made the effort with The Innovator’s Mindset.

One of the “8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom” that I feel has been lacking for me is the time for reflection.  But this MOOC has helped me focus on reflection.

In addition, I have just completeAdobe Spark (1).jpgd a yearlong leadership program with the SC State Dept of Education.  One key component of that program was reflection.  We started each session with “Community in Silence” time – a time to stop and think about why we were there, what we had been working on and what we hoped to accomplish.
Each session also had time built in for writing reflections.  I have learned through practice how important time for reflection is.  

We often do not take the time to reflect and that’s something we must do as educators and we must help our students do.  Not just help, but provide time for it.

George Couros includes the quotation “We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience.”

That is a great lifelong lesson.

 

#IMMOOC Week 3. Post 3 – Outside our walls


This has been a busy week filled with much reflection and learning for me (more on that in other posts).  But to wrap up week three of #IMMOOC, I want to share some thoughts on innovation as it relates to communication and collaboration.

This week, I listened to several episodes from the Cool Cat Teacher Podcast Show “Every Classroom Matters” including one called “How Teachers Can Find Time to Innovate” by Annette Lang.

I was struck by Ms Lang’s “bite-sized” approach to innovation.  In order to not be overwhelmed, she decided to pick one new thing to try.  In doing so, she was able to connect her students in the US with students overseas.  The students collaborated on projects and gave each other real audiences for their work.  In just a year, she has transformed learning for her students.

Shouldn’t we all be doing this?

IMG_1981For me this connected to the example at the opening of chapter 5, when George Couros writes about how much communication has changed.  We used to worry how many minutes we talked to someone far away.  I remember being in Spain one summer during high school and having to go to the public phone several blocks away to arrange a very brief call back to my parents in the CA (and we wrote letters!).

Times have changed!  If my children can Facetime their cousins in PA & CO and their grandparents in CA for FREE with the touch of a button, shouldn’t all of us help our students reach out to other students around the world?
If we’re studying Japanese, let’s talk to people in Japan. If we’re learning about desert habitats, let’s see what they look like “first hand.”

Technology affords us limitless opportunities to communicate and collaborate outside the walls of our school.  Let’s Go!

 

 

 

 

#IMMOOC – Week 3. Post 2 – You can’t do it alone

I enjoyed listening to the weekly recording last night.  Listening to principals Amber Teamann and Matt Arend talk with Katie Martin & George Couros was inspiring.  

Although I work at the high school level and at a much larger school, the ideas each of these elementary school principals shared resonated with me.  

I loved Amber’s idea of everyone moving forward no matter what the pace.  Her clear expectations and goals help everyone at her school improve.  The discussions about how learning is never over and that we can always work to improve is something I believe in and try to practice.  I sometimes have teachers ask me why I am redoing or “tweaking” a process, activity, etc. when it already works well.  My answer:  life is constantly changing, and I want to make sure I am always trying to do my best.

I also loved the discussion about being a “school teacher” vs a “classroom teacher.”  As our school’s tech cIMMOOC 3 You cant do it aloneoach, I am a “school teacher” by default – I am responsible for and interact with all students.  But I want ALL of our teachers to be “school teachers.”

What “school teachers” refers to is the idea (and practice) that ALL teachers need to care about what happens in ALL classrooms with ALL children.  That doesn’t mean that everyone will know every minute of what goes on in another class – that’s unrealistic.  But it is also naive to think that what goes on in one class does not impact what happens in another.

We need to work to learn about others and build on each other’s work.  At our school, for example, students take 8 classes.  That’s a lot of different teachers, physical classrooms, rules, content, procedures, standards, assessments, etc.  Our students and our school as a whole can only benefit from us knowing more about what happens the other 7 blocks our students spend in other classes.

So – let’s share what we’re doing – in conversation, on social media, etc.  Ask questions of each other.  We are a community of learners – “You can’t do it alone.”

 

 

 

#IMMOOC – Week 3. Post 1

This week we’ve been challenged to post 3 times (shorter posts).  So, here goes.

Prompt: Share some of your best ideas for building relationships and a culture of trust in your position.

As our school’s Digital Integration Specialist, I have the privilege of working with everyone in our building – teachers, students, and staff.  I think, for me, the biggest keys to building relationships and trust are . . .

IMMOOC3Open Door – My office is in the middle of the school inside our media center.  Unless I’m on a call, my door stays open.  People stop by all the time, and we get to talk about their lives, their classrooms, and their needs.  I also like to be “out and about” in the halls and classrooms where I can have a better idea of what’s going on with people.

Listening –  Whether it’s students, teachers, or staff, I always
try to be a good listener. It’s important for me to take the time to let people talk.  Sometimes that’s all that needs to happen. Sometimes after listening, I can offer suggestions for solutions or new ideas.  But I can’t presume to have suggestions unless I understand the situation.

Respect – I truly believe that every person has value.  Everyone I work with (including students) knows more about different things than I do.  I am often told I am easy to approach and patient. I think that comes from the core belief in the value of every person.  I never know what I’ll learn from the people who cross my path.

 

 

#IMMOOC Episode 2 Reflections

Reflections & Questions from: #IMMOOC Season 2, Episode 2 – With Special Guest Sarah Thomas  After listening to this week’s episode, my thoughts sorted themselves into three general areas.  These led to one question for each area.  I hope our answer is “YES!” to each of the questions.  If not, we know where we need to grow.

Learn from anyone anywhere 

I can’t believe I’ve actually listened to two one hour “podcasts” in two weeks.  For me, that’s a new way of learning. I love that I was able to put in my blue tooth earbuds and listen to George, Katie, and Sarah from my phone while I made dinner.  I had my laptop open so I could take notes when struck with a particular line or idea.  When I sit back and think about it, this type of learning is amazing.  Learning from 3 different people who were in 3 different places  – awesome.  Learning at a time that was convenient for me – even better.  Getting to hear directly from experts – priceless.

This connection to experts and to people physically out of reach is now available to everyone with internet.  Learning like this is not just for teachers and other professionals, but also for our students.  Are we helping our students find new learning opportunities and ways to connect with experts?

 

Every person has a voice

“Everyone has something to share. Everyone.”

One of my favorite moments from the podcast was when George said, “Everyone has something to say.  Everyone.”  This came as a part of discussion about introverts.  I enjoyed hearing Sarah explain how she is an introvert (like me!), but she has found new ways to share.  Katie continued by pointing out that technology creates opportunities for our introverted and/or quieter students. It gives ALL students voices in (and out) of the classroom.

Leveraging technology to help our students find their voices and to give them ways to make meaningful contributions to our classrooms, schools, and communities is so very powerful.

We HAVE to make these opportunities available to all of our students.  Are we giving students ways to ask questions, ways to share ideas, ways to reflect and to grow?  

 

Avoid Frivolous Innovations

“If you don_t know your kids and what they need, the innovations are frivolous”Of course the focus of this MOOC is Innovation. As George says in his book, “The innovator’s mindset can be defined as the belief that the abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas” (p. 33). The discussions about innovation being something that is new AND something that makes learning better is important.  Just doing something new for the sake of doing a new thing is not what all of this is about.

When Katie said, “If you don’t know your kids and what they need, the innovations are frivolous,” she helped remind us that innovation is meaningless without connections and relationships.  George also talked about how time spent talking to a teacher is time he will get back tenfold because of the relationship he’s developing.  This applies to everyone in our school buildings – students, teachers, administrators, etc.

New ideas might be “fun” or “interesting” to people who like to try new things (like many of us in #IMMOOC), but we all must remember that if they don’t connect with our students and improve learning, then we need to rethink them.  Are we keeping our students and their goals in mind when trying new things?  Do we take time to get to know our students and teachers as people?

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!   Let’s keep at it!

Many, many great ideas in this week’s episode.  Love the sharing that’s going on in the whole #IMMOOC and getting to see glimpses into the lives of so many great educators!

 

 

 

 

Small Steps can be HUGE

One of our science teachers asked me to come into her class today to help some students who were having trouble turning assignments into Google Classroom.  I was happy to go see what I could do to assist.

When I arrived, the teacher had already created an assignment (using the schoolwide numbering protocol – yeah!) and attached a file set to “Make a copy” for each student.  She wanted them to type an answer to the question in the file and then turn it in.

The first thing I noticed was that the file was a Word file, not a Google Doc.  Since our students use iPads, files have to “hop” between the three apps: Google Classroom, Google Drive and Google Docs to be completed.  Some students were using phones and did not have Drive or Docs downloaded, so we solved that problem quickly.  I  knew that one of the issues the class was having was the Word to Doc conversion. Some had figured out how to convert, edit and submit.  Some were struggling.

But my favorite moment in the short time I was there was after explaining how creating the attachment as a Google Doc would make the process more streamlined for the students, the tea-I can fix this-cher said something to the effect of “so this is my problem, I can fix this.”  That sounds so minor, but her willingness to admit she needed to learn (and wanted to) was HUGE.  While her students were still completing the practice problem, she and I quickly walked through how to create and attach a Google Doc in Google Classroom.

I so appreciate this teacher’s decision to ask for help, her desire to want to improve the experience for her students, and her willingness to learn.  What more could you ask for from a dedicated teacher?

#IMMOOC Reflections: Week One

I am excited to learn from other passionate educators during this #IMMOOC.   I appreciate the weekly challenges/”to do list” and opportunities to learn.  This blog post is c5d3oxhxmaa_gzppart of the first week challenge.  The Innovator’s Mindset  has been in my “to read” stack for a while now, so this was the perfect opportunity to finally get
started.

This is also a good time for me to revisit blogging in general.  I love reading others’ blogs, but never really thought I had much to offer outside of my building (although I like to share what my students do via Twitter).  But I’ve come to see that blogging can be about reflection ,and I believe that reflection is an essential, but often forgotten, part of the learning process.  This #IMMOOC experience is a chance for me practice reflection.

I was able to watch/listen to the recorded #IMMOOC Season 2 – Episode 1 (AJ Juliani and John Spencer) last night.  As the conversation went on, I grabbed a notecard to write down some of phrases that jumped out at me.  (Note to self:  one notecard is not NEARLY enough!).  But here are some of the comments that really spoke to me (forgive any transcription errors):

  • “no such thing as a shallow topic – let them chase their curiosity”
  • Balance doesn’t mean “the middle zone/moderate. It means holding onto both of those things at the same time.”
  • Kids learn the game – “if the adults at school are happy, the adults at home are happy” (note: not really a good thing)
  • “Looking back helps you move forward”
  • “Assume if it’s better for kids, you could and you absolutely should do it.”

This episode and what I’ve read so far in The Innovator’s Mindset reaffirms what I already believe about education and try to put into practice in my work with students and teachers.

I think we all struggle with balancing the confines of the systems we work in with “innovative” ideas we know are good for kids.  But if we truly believe in cultivating curiosity and helping to raise “good” people, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes and to speak up for changes we think are necessary.

My favorite line from book’s introduction is :

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As a parent and an educator, what more could I want than for students to be “better people because of their experiences” at school?

I look forward to continuing the #IMMOOC journey and plan to do more of my own blogging about what’s going on at our school in EdTech.  I love what I do which makes me excited to learn and improve.