Posted in #Immooc, culture, Learning

#IMMOOC–The Innovative Educator

Innovation is more than just inventing something new.

Innovation is creative and messy. It is about creating a space for experimentation, failures, change for the better. Critical questions to ask when looking for innovation: Is it new? Is it better? How can you use innovation in teaching? How can students use it to learn?  We have to create an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability.  If you know every day when you show up to class EXACTLY what is going to happen (think about it from the lens of a student–I’m going to come in, sit down, do my warm up, listen to my teacher and take notes, then leave)….what does your mindset become? Is there room for real learning? For experimenting? For failing? For questioning?  Are you looking for new things? Are you learning new things?

If you are stuck in a rut, in a predictable cycle of teaching, how do you get out of it?

Start with some critical questions (from Ch. 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset):

critical questions picture

Have you asked yourself these questions lately? Couros says, on page 41 of The Innovator’s Mindset:  “The innovator’s mindset starts with empathy for our students (which is why the questions above are so crucial). Equally important is the desire to create something BETTER.”

So, what have you looked at with fresh eyes today? Have you asked yourself, “Is it new? Is it better? Is there a better way?”

If you need more inspiration, check out the #IMMOOC hashtag on twitter. Find some new blogs to read! Learn, grow, then reflect and post your own blogs!  Or you can just read The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. Or for shorter reading, check out the 10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching from AJ Juliani.

Posted in #Immooc, Learning, Teaching, Uncategorized

A message of kindness

I posted about Mrs. Eva Mozes Kor last October:

eva-blog-posting-from-october

One of the amazing things that Eva does is spreading her message at conferences, in schools, and around the world.  A program that she hosts through the museum allows you to spend $500 and you will receive 30 copies of her book plus an hour long virtual session with her.  Of course, I jumped at this opportunity for the students at my campus.  I put in the PO, ordered the books, and got started!

We started our meetings in January and these students read the book on their own time and came to advisory once a week.  They are an impressive group of students and they came every week with new questions, ideas, and thoughts about her book and how it relates to history, to their own lives, and to the world we live in today. We did all kinds of activities from quote swapping, to the wagon wheel protocol, to creating slogans and hashtags to represent the chapters.  It was a great experience with the students and really fun for me to get back for a bit into the world of teaching. 🙂

But the most AMAZING part of the entire thing happened yesterday.  Yesterday was the hour long session with Eva herself virtually.   The students were mesmerized by her every word.  She tells pieces of her story in Auschwitz and then gives the students her own message.  A message that is full of kindness, forgiveness, and love.  The students asked her their own questions as well and she was very gracious in her answers.  Ranging from inspiring students to be the best they can be, to be kind to others, to silly stories of how she learned English when she moved to Indiana by watching soap operas and how she was confused when her fiancé (at the time) kept telling her all the females in his family were going to have a wedding shower for her and she just said, um, that’s okay, I can bathe by myself.  She has an incredible strength that surrounds her and what she does every day. A few words of wisdom:

If you don’t give up, you can accomplish anything.

We can improve the world, one person at a time.

Become the best You that you can. You cannot become anyone else.

Be kind.

Forgive others. You have the power to forgive. No one can give it to you and no one can take it away. Forgiveness is a feeling of wholeness.

So today, more than ever, I will work to forgive. I will work to be kind. I will not give up on my dreams. I will work to improve the world.  Thank you Eva–for your amazing ability to survive and how you have used your life to empower others to be better.

Thank you to the students who embarked upon this amazing journey. Thank you for being willing to take part in the meetings each week, to read the book on your own time, to add your slogans and hashtags, share your quotes, discuss the meaning of Eva’s words with your classmates, your friends, and with me. I know you are all so empowered after hearing her message.  I hope that you are a little kinder and a little better each day now from reading Eva’s words and from hearing her message.

students-watching-eva-presentation

Posted in Conferences, Learning

Professional Learning

I recently attended two Region 4 conferences. One was the Digital Learning conference (where I presented a session with a SS IC and a Math IC one easy tech tips to organize and streamline your life) and the other was the Social Studies conference (where I presented a session with a SS IC on total participation activities for students).  Both conferences had some great presentations that sparked new ideas. I enjoyed sessions on using maps to teach broach concepts in social studies, visiting exhibit halls to see the latest in smart board technology, and video hosting platforms for coaching like Torsch, I enjoyed makerspace sessions and I caught a review of a session on warm-ups that I saw in Corpus at TCSS as well, and then a nice perspective on using student backgrounds to maximize their potentials and empathy for others.

What Professional Learning have you attended lately? Was it worth it? Any new ideas?? Sometimes I feel like conferences are good and you get new ideas and other times I feel like I’m inspired by more things by reading and visiting teachers every day in class. Where do you learn your new ideas? What does your professional learning look like?  Do you learn from books, the teacher next door, your admin team, an instructional coach, summertime PD?

Hopefully it’s all of the above and more! Twitter? Blogs?  I wonder if too many educators rely only on campus provided (mandatory)/summer PD?  How many amazing ideas, research, concepts, ideas are they missing? How can we inspire all educators to want to continue to learn and grow every day in different avenues instead of it being just isolated to a single session or day of PD here and there?

Posted in #Immooc, Learning, T-Tess, Teaching

T-Tess and What is good teaching anyhow?

In our return to school today we spent time learning more about T-Tess–the new appraisal system for teachers in Texas (replacing PDAS).  I’m actually pretty excited about it.  It really lends itself to more of a coaching model within schools, and hey…this instructional coach here is happy about it!

It is divided into 4 Domains: Planning, Instruction, Learning Environment, and Professional Practices and Responsibilities.  Read more about it here: https://teachfortexas.org/

The training was heavy on information, but had a few activities built in:

  • Small group talk about what makes a lesson an effective lesson. Teachers wrote down their thoughts individually and then had to come to a consensus as a table.
  • Rubric breakdown involving the differences between each level (Distinguished to Improvement Needed) and what that really means and looks like in the classroom.

To reflect on T-Tess, on those activities, and on learning, I want to think more about:

What is good teaching?

What does it look like?

What makes it effective?

Education is full of buzzwords, and sometimes you read articles, hear stories, talk with colleagues and it all sounds great, but what does it really look like in the classroom? What does effective teaching look like? What characteristics can you observe?

I’m working on a list that covers both individual characteristics of effective teachers as well as observable characteristics of effective teaching:

  • energetic and positive
  • encourages independent thought
  • accepts criticism
  • reflective on quality of their own teaching
  • organized and strong time management skills
  • able to use wit and humor
  • respectful and caring of all students
  • frames the lesson and closes the lesson
  • uses a variety of instructional techniques
  • lessons and assignments are planned purposefully and students can articulate their purposes when asked
  • connects learning to concrete, real-life examples
  • engages students in critical thinking, research skills, writing skills, and internet safety
  • provides frequent feedback to students on their learning
  • uses feedback from students (and other professionals) to reflect upon teaching and adjust methods

What is on your list?

I don’t believe that effective teachers just happen.  Effective teachers are working constantly to improve their practices–through continued learning, coaching cycles, feedback from students, feedback from colleagues, twitter, and more!