Posted in #Immooc, Conferences

More Life Lessons from Eva Kor

I posted last about attending TCSS in Corpus and having the opportunity to meet Eva Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz.  Since then, I have submitted the paperwork and have 30 students signed up to participate in a book study over her book and a SKYPE session with her! I’m am very excited about this.  We had over 30 students sign up, but the museum only allows 30 so we had to go based on time stamp of registering online. I’ve talked to a few students already and they are very excited to get started.

So on to her next life lessons that she shared with us in Corpus.

Life lesson 2 was about Prejudice. She said that it always hurts the victim and talked about how societies that permit it to happen are destroyed by it.

“It is the cancer of the human soul.” 

She went on to discuss how it is her obligation to not have prejudice. That everyone has an obligation to not have it.  For example, she talked about how students should wear uniforms as they go to school only to improve their minds! Not to impress others.

“You must judge people on their merits.”

Life Lesson 3 was the one I found the most humbling. Her life lesson #3 is:

“Forgive the Nazis.”

Wow. How amazing is her forgiveness and grace?? She talked awhile about forgiveness and I was mesmerized by her every word. I wanted to remember it exactly. I typed it as fast as I could in the notes on my iPhone (yeah, I know, I should have just recorded her, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time).

“You have the power to forgive. No one can give it to you and no one can take it away. As long as you have someone you are angry with, you are still a victim. Forgiveness is a feeling of wholeness. It is freeing. It works. It has no side effects.”

Are you amazed yet? You can find a lot more information about her with a simple google search, or by reading her book!

I started this blog as part of the #IMMOOC.  I didn’t really follow the assigned blog prompts each week, but I was grateful for the ideas shared by others and the opportunity to challenge myself to reflect and write.  As I reflect on Mrs. Kor, her life, her message, and all the amazing ideas from the #IMMOOC, I think about innovation and society.  How far have we come as a society in education?  In helping others? In ridding the world of prejudice?  In creating, growing, learning, reflecting, and becoming innovative??
In the current political climate, it is really HARD to see positives. A lot of negativity has come out in our society/culture/world.  Can we all take a minute to pause and think about Eva’s message?  I hope I can follow her life lessons in all things that I do in life.  Do you?

One last thing to leave you with from Mrs. Kor:

“What if we created a project where a million tweets are sent to stop the killing and create a safe zone in Syria? Imagine that. The power of the internet is amazing.  This is why I tweet. It is easy. You can be clever. You can be bold. You can make a difference.”

Posted in #Immooc

Research, Better Conversations, and Relationships!

Recently, I had a discussion with some educational leaders on my campus about what is effective in education. Some of those leaders had attended a day long presentation on Visible Learning. I was interested in the book and the research, but also very questioning of it all.  I think it is hard to find research for education that is irrefutable. I’m curious as to what others think on this as well. I guess I’m sort of a skeptic on buying into educational research without doing some research of my own first. Ha!

I believe that teaching is an art. It has so many characteristics, variables, options, etc (whatever word you want to use). My role as an instructional coach, I think, is to expose students and teachers to new and better ideas so they can use which ones best fit themselves as teachers and their students as learners.  There is a lot of research saying this strategy is the most effective, or this strategy is only sort of effective.  But is that research valid? Aren’t there TOO many variables to determine what is effective? All schools, teachers, students are different. So how do we determine what is the most effective?

Instead of just reading books on what’s most effective in education, I want to rely on more ways of encouraging students and teachers to question ideas and to try new things. Teachers and students should be finding out what works and experimenting. If something doesn’t work, then that’s okay. We can keep going. I do believe in research in that it can lead us down a path of growing, learning, changing, innovating.  But I don’t buy into the idea of one size fits all or one person’s research (or one person compiling research) is what’s best for all kids in all classrooms.

What I really like is this from Edventures of a Teacher Mom.  Have you read this blog? I LOVE this part of one of the posts (it’s an Acrostic):

Invest in their people (investment vs. expenditure)
Network. Get outside of the walls of their office, classroom, school.
Nurture relationships. Care for their people.
Open their heart. Share their hopes, dreams and fears. Let their people see their human side and who they really are.
Voice, choice and autonomy.
Act as a role-model, and risk-taker.
Trust their people more than they feel comfortable with.
Empathize with their people. Understand who they are, what they hope, what they fear, etc.

I think the blogs and ideas from educators around the world has so much power! I read her acrostic (and the rest of her blog postings for that matter) and found myself nodding along in agreement and being delightfully surprised in her working and how it all just makes SO MUCH SENSE in connecting innovation to learning.

Speaking of research, Jim Knight (who focuses on Instructional Coaching) talks about how CONVERSATIONS (really, better conversations) are the LIFEBLOOD of a school. That the biggest way to change a school, to make an impact is to improve the conversations that are happening.  Sheila in her post says “It’s all about the heart work.” That is so powerful. I think her thoughts, Jim Knight’s thoughts tie in perfectly with the importance of Relationships from The Innovator’s Mindset…from what George Couros and Katie Martin have been talking about. And really, what almost all of the #IMMOOC participants have blogged about.

If you think about all of the pieces of a school, of learning, of people, of innovation…isn’t it all really about conversations and relationships? Aren’t those what make us human? What make us connect, learn, and grow?  I think we all know this, it’s just nice to think about it, talk about it out loud, and blog about it.

Thanks for listening! I hope we can have a conversation, a better conversation that is about innovation, learning, growing, changing and being!

–Celaina

Posted in #Immooc

TCSS in Corpus–Edutaining!

So I’m a bit behind in the #IMMOOC. It has been a busy time at work and at home. I’ve been keeping up as best I can with twitter and the facebook groups. My plan is to read some updated blogs and comment this evening.

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Today, I’m heading to Corpus Christi to attend and present at the Texas Council for Social Studies conference. I’m excited to attend and to present. I’m presenting with a fellow coworker on ways to “Edutain” learners in a social studies classroom. Are we presenting anything innovative?  I think so, using the whole “Is it New, Is it Better?” mentality.  It’s not necessarily new to us, but it will be new to some of the attendees.  And is it better? I think so! We are presenting 5-6 ideas, that you can easily use in class to make the learning more engaging and student centered. Hopefully teachers see these as easy ideas to implement to break up the standard routine most in social studies follow of lecturing or having students read articles and answer questions. Here is a copy of the handout we are giving participants: Edutaining Learners in Social Studies Classes.  We are presenting on Saturday. Wish us luck!

–Celaina

Posted in #Immooc

EduBlogs…..who uses them?

I’m a little behind on posting for the #IMMOOC.  My plan is to watch the google hangout from Saturday either today or tomorrow and then post some reflections after that. Plus a meme (like the one of my daughter, below). I’ve been keeping up with the Voxer group and it is so great. There are some wonderful ideas being shared. If you haven’t joined, it’s not too late. But between the hangouts, facebook, twitter, and blog postings–there are so many new ideas out there! That has been the beauty of the MOOC, right??

So Edublogs…does anyone use them and not have a pro account? I was a winner for the #IMMOOC selfie contest and my prize is an edublogs pro account. I use wordpress (obviously), so I don’t need an edublogs account. Who needs one? I’m sure I can transfer my winnings over to you.  Comment and let me know your info!

Happy Monday! Have you had your Coffee yet?

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Posted in #Immooc

Shifting Culture

Shifting Culture: a reflection on being an instructional coach and week 1 of the #IMMOOC

How do you create an innovative environment in your school? As an Instructional Coach, this is something I think about often. How can I help teachers try new things, reflect on their teaching, experience new professional learning, and grow in their craft??

Everyday is an opportunity to get better. Don’t waste it! And of course, a favorite quote from George Couros, Chapter 1 of The Innovator’s Mindset:

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Change is difficult and sometimes when we are looking for change, we expect it to happen all at once. But in reality, change comes in small opportunities. The important thing in shifting culture it to take advantage of those small opportunities.

In Instructional Coaching, those small opportunities come by finding a few educators who are willing try new things, to reflect, and to grow. The energy of success and excitement from those few educators will spread around the school. An excellent example is #ObserveMe!

Change is a great thing if you look at it as an opportunity. Take a moment and think…what transformational things you have seen around you? Those started out as a change. How can you embrace those?  How can you use what you teach to enable the students to be ready for the real world? Many teachers are already working with students in transformational ways. I see teachers working hard everyday to individualize instruction for each student, getting to know each student, finding their strengths and thus preparing them for success!

Everyone has their strengths. How can you find small opportunities and use your strengths to make great change? To innovate in education? Start small…you might surprise yourself! Shift the Culture of your department, your school, your community!

Posted in #Immooc

#ObserveMe

Have you heard about the #ObserveMe idea? It started about a month ago, posted on a blog from Robert Kaplinsky.  I saw it on twitter and retweeted it to the other Instructional Coaches on my campus. I’m at a high school and we have 4 instructional coaches: Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies.  Other Instructional Coaches around the district started tweeting and emailing about it as well and it has grown!

I could not be more excited about teachers being vulnerable, opening their doors, taking risks, and working on goals to improve their teaching!

Here are a few examples:

 

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So far, a lot of teachers are putting their goals as the instructional focus for our campus, which I think is great! We have a strong campus instructional focus this year on:

  • Small Group Purposeful Talk
  • Writing Critically
  • Framing the Lesson (we took the phrasing/terminology from the Fundamental Five).

For me, in Social Studies, this means there is more time for the students to interact with their learning (to analyze, think, process, question, create, and more) and less time for the teacher to be the giver of information.  Many of the teachers on my campus are already working well with more student focused lessons. Physically writing their goals and displaying them on the #ObserveMe sign outside their classroom door is enabling more opportunities to grow and practice. It is also giving them more feedback from others on those goals and growth.

I am so excited that teachers are embracing #ObserveMe. I love that they are making goals on what they are working on improving!  If you follow any Steve Barkley, you have probably heard him say that Teaching is a team sport and Teaching needs to be a public act.  I think #ObserveMe helps connect both of those!

What about you? Have you opened your door?

Posted in #Immooc

Joining in on the #IMMOOC

So here we go! Technically the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC doesn’t start for another week, but already people are jumping ahead and getting started! So I thought I would jump in as well.

George posted a question to spark our thinking, “Why is “innovation” so crucial in education? What impact do you see it having on our students and ourselves long term?”

A few people have already responded on the Facebook post with inspiring answers connecting problem solving, creative solutions, relevance, staying fresh, keeping up with the world around us, and much more. All such great answers!!!

I responded with: “We, as educators, can’t stay the same because the world around us is changing. We live in a world of 3D printed cars and houses! Who knows what is coming next? We have to harness that energy and excitement to empower our students. We should give our students the tools to analyze and create and live in a world that is changing everyday. So yes, I believe innovation is crucial to education.”

Do you listen to podcasts? I have a few that I just love and learn from every time! Recently, I listened to Steve Kotler (Tomorrowland) on the James Altucher Show (The James Altucher Show is currently my favorite podcast, I learn so many new things every single episode). If you have some time, you should check it out. This episode, I think feeds directly into the question George asked us about innovation being crucial in education. I wonder what you all think?

I’m excited to participate in the dialogue on The Innovator’s Mindset. Are you joining in??