Thursday, March 30, 2017

#IMMOOC Sketch Notes Challenge

      Sunday's video discussion was terrific.  If only all of our school directors could be like these 4 amazing educational leaders Beth Taylor HoufShelley BurgessKatie MartinGeorge Couros #leadlikeapirate.  There were so many great messages...Leaders have to give trust to empower people.....Everyone is responsible for the Positiveness of the school......Culture Matters....Less is more.  Great ideas were also imbedded into the conversation....Genius Hour PD, and Letting teachers SHINE by empowering others and Leading Like a Pirate.

Creating Sketch Notes was a hard challenge for me this week.  It meant that I had to take great notes during the video.  It was difficult to keep up with the chat going on during the discussion. Then I had to really think and plan out what statements and layout I was going to use.  I love how sketch notes look.  I'm not sure that I could create this very often.  

Thanks George for pushing me to try something new.  I've been surprising myself with all my new learning.  I can't believe we only have one more week left in our MOOC.

Our Twitter chat this week was again the fastest hour in my week.  My  twitter PLN is growing.  I look forward to our next #IMMOOC chat on Wednesday, at 9:00 pm EST.

Looking forward to 
warm sunny summer

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Strength" in Numbers Better Blogging with Buddies

        This week I chose a fantastic teacher to blog with my friend and colleague Tonya Caswell.  This challenge was a wonderful experience that brought the best out in both of us.  

    This idea of teaching to the strengths of a child and not their weaknesses has such a positive spin from the negative, what you can't do mentality.  I think I have always used this when working with students to help build their confidence within the classroom.

      There needs to be a culture shift away from focusing on what kids can’t do. It starts from the top down.  Standardized testing results is driving our instruction.  Our funding depends on standardized testing results.  Which causes a teach to the test mentality.  That does not allow us to focus on student strengths.  It seems to create this manic pressure to perform well.  We take time away from good first instruction to practice the TEST!  We are not prioritizing the development of a growth mindset, we are  focusing on proficiency and task completion.  Due to the weight these tests are given to determine schools’ success, in reporting results the media only focuses on what our kids can’t do.  This results in communities that focus on failure.

      Innovators are those that are performing under these constraints, but prioritize  developing life long learners through the modeling of using a growth mindset and building on students strengths and interests.  Teachers who know their students and leaders who know their staff build stronger learning communities.
Nothing good comes from working in isolation.
drop mic animated GIF
Thank you Tonya for your opinions and thoughts.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vision #IMMOOCB3

              My vision for education is that all students learn in a caring, nurturing, supportive environment that allows students to form their own ideas around what and how they learn.  That innovation is at the forefront of our curriculum.  That the leaders of our school support and encourage educators to create classrooms that foster risk-taking, failure/success model, problem solving, and relationships.

        I want my students to be excited every day to come to school.  When problems arise for students I don’t want them to back down and give up……I want perservance to be in their vocabulary.  I want my students to have an understanding that this is not an egocentric world that is all about them…….It is a world where everyone matters and we are all working for the good of others.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Be Present #IMMOOCB2

         I loved the idea of having our leaders become a student for a day  The empathy and understanding of what it’s like for our students.  Taking the perspective of a child can change the thinking for everyone.  The observation for the type of day, the environment, the rigor in the curriculum and the tasks themselves can help a leader see students through a different lens.  Reflection of this perspective can lead to Innovation. Leaders can help  take educators out of their comfort zones to improve their practice and change ways of thinking.

        There are days that go by that I never cross paths with our school leader.  What a marvelous idea of mobilizing our leader’s daily office, by hanging out in classrooms instead of the office.  This is truly “being present” in our schools.   This can help our school leaders get a handle or a vibe for what is happening in our school setting.  It can be a way for our leaders to offer support to our innovative staff.  I believe that innovation doesn’t just happen.  There has to be thought of, sweat, collaboration, excitement, support and ideas for some change.  Let’s be the change by being present!

Stella arrived and dumped about 3 feet of snow!
I'd rather blog than shovel.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

#IMMOOCB1 Trust in Relationships

       As an educator I have always believed in the idea of teams but it’s hard to be a team when you go into your room and close your door to do your work.  I have always enjoyed an “open door” policy.  I’ve got nothing to hide and I love having people come to observe my practice.  My first grade team takes care of each other.  We trust and honor each other’s thoughts, share, and help when the going gets rough. George Couros says “it is far easier to trust someone when you have a relationship with that person.”  Just like my team. 

       I only wish my principal had a relationship with his teaching staff……trust and belief in our work with children seems to have been thrown out the window.  My wish is to have a leader that believes in his staff and trusts that our goals for children are the same.  Why is it necessary for a principal to control everything?  It creates decent amongst our staff.  I want a perfect world.  “As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.” George Couros  Why do I feel like I’m hiding my talent?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#IMMOOC It's All About the Kids!

 Wow!  The deeper I delve into The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, the amazing growth in my own learning.  I loved the video discussion with George, Katie Martin, and Sarah Thomas of is finding like-minded people to carry on THE conversation with.  I will be checking that out.

 "If it’s not better for kids, and if you don’t know your kids and what they need, than the innovation is frivolous.”  Katie Martin  Innovation is doing something new and better…..but remember that’s tied to “what’s better for kids.” Not just what’s better.  It’s really all about the kids.  We do need to meet the needs of the kids.  This is critical to innovation.  Just because I'm doing new and flashy things with technology doesn't mean I'm an innovator.  Say it with me....."It's all about the kids."
I have a hard time when I hear the leader of my school say that all kids in first grade will receive the same education in any one of the 3 classrooms.  Really?  It’s not fair to the kids to be “Stepford Teachers”.   I don’t expect anyone to have the same passions that I have for teaching.  So it’s really going to look very different in my classroom than in the other 2 classrooms.  I think that’s okay.  Other teachers often just smile at me and say “Wow! I can’t do what you do!”  But in fact they can.

Teachers are not scared of change…..they are scared of spending all their time to do something that has no impact.  George Couros I am amazed how the leaders in my school are not pushing me to have an impact on the kids in my class.  We do spend time doing work that is not helping with my growth as a teacher.  It’s my own desire to address the needs of kids through my own innovation.  I want my kiddos to be deep thinkers and problem solvers.  They aren’t going to get that through worksheets or just playing on computer games.  Don’t get me wrong…..gaming is very important to the technology movement in our schools but it really needs a purpose.  Just letting them play is really not what’s best for kids.

Making connections with other innovators opens up a whole new world.  This book has the gears clicking away in my head.  I’m excited to push myself further to in the pursuit of innovative growth…….wait is that new hash tag???……#innovativegrowth   the reflection piece to document my change overtime.   YES!

New plan:
1.     Document my growth overtime……I have forgotten to do that over my 30 years of teaching.
2.     Make more connections through hashtags and not just people….love this George
3.     Continue to seek support and space to nurture growth to get the BEST results with kids…..thanks Sarah Thomas
4.     And to Share Share Share…..Sarah is right!  Sharing is a way to excite others to want to be innovative with their own growth.

I’m looking forward to our Wednesday Twitter Chat on #IMMOOC!  It’s the fastest hour in my whole week……I have to spend an extra hour just catching up to all of the dialog.  I love it!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Innovator's Mindset #IMMOOC

     Wow!  So much cool information all at one time.  I am reading the book The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros and taking his online course at #IMMOOC.  I am blown away by how many people have the same belief system that I have.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a tiny island in the middle of this gigantic sea called Education.  Every time I read something posted by people taking this same course I just want to "like" everything I read.  It has been great to find like minded people.

      I love the Quote by Bill Fettiter, "Technology is a tool, NOT a learning outcome."  Why are we so focused on how many apps we used?   Why do teachers and others believe that if I make a video or create a document in Google or stick a child in front of a green screen that we have somehow fulfilled the technology standards?  I have been guilty of this sentiment myself, using technology (computers, iPads, apps, videos, etc...) is what it's all about.  We need to take it a step further and start conversations about how technology can make a difference to the questions our students ask and it can certainly drive the change in our classrooms.  I have some bright thinkers in my first grade classroom that need many opportunities to push them to want something more from their education.  I also have some give me a task and I'll be the first to get it done kind of kids.  These kids never seem to do more than what is asked of them.  I have got to take away the task and push students to think in different ways about their learning. What do they want to learn  It's those daydreamers that may have a better way to approach problems so I need to be a better listener to these deep thinkers.

       I love the excitement that Genius Projects instill in my students.  I've got to get them thinking about learning something more, ways to innovate, and using to technology as an avenue to get there.
    I want the voice of the students to be in the forefront of our classroom.  Sometimes as teachers we need to be in control of everything.  Why can't I just let my students take over and dictate the path we follow.  It may not always be pretty, but it will be real.
     My next steps:
        First, Class meeting to discuss a new path for our class.
        Second,  Make a list of student ideas.
        Third,  Choice from Student Voice.........How do we want to proceed?
        Fourth, Make an action plan together.
I will not have all the answers......I will push my students to work out problems as they arise.

I'm scared ! YIKES!

Change is an opportunity to do something amazing! ........George Couros

This has got to be my mantra for the next couple of months.  Thanks George for the inspiration to further myself as a teacher/coach/innovator.