Posted in #Immooc, Learning, Teaching

Starting off the school year

Summer is rapidly coming to an end which means let’s start the back to school work. Time to take all that summer learning from books, blogs, twitter, planning with co-workers, professional learning, vacation, and etc, and put it into practice.

How do you start off your school year? Prep your classroom, make some lesson plans, get those bulletin boards and seating charts ready, etc?  What about the syllabus, class rules, and class expectations? That was something that was at the top of my priority list my first few years of teaching. I felt it paramount to cover every bit of the syllabus and class rules and expectations on DAY 1. 

My first year of teaching, I made sure to really hit those rules and expectations hard. I wanted the students to know I was in charge and I meant what I said.  Big surprise….at the end of the day, I wasn’t inspired. I was exhausted and annoyed with repeating the same rules and answering the same questions all day long.  But I guess I forgot that feeling as I did the exact same thing my 2nd year and again, at the end of the day I found myself bored and uninspired.

By Year 3, I FINALLY wised up a bit and changed my first day into a more fun activity that involved yarn, construction paper, and teamwork with students creating their own maps of the earth and an ‘archeological dig’ (from a paper bag) and then a silly name game icebreaker that we played outside with a ball in the beautiful Texas heat (I mean, the beautiful Texas sunshine).

It was SO MUCH BETTER. At the end of that day, I was PUMPED, ready for a new school year, and I could see the students shared my same excitement.

How do you plan to start your year?  I saw a twitter post from Matthew Arend the other day with a picture of 5 Questions from George Couros. You can read about it on Couros’s blog here: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7552

Here are the questions:

Screen-Shot-2017-07-22-at-8.54.52-PMAren’t these almost perfect questions for starting off your year?  I’m brainstorming how I can use these with the social studies department on my campus as their Instructional Coach. I want to know from the teachers:

  • What are the qualities you look for in an instructional coach?
  • What are you passionate about that you want to share with others?
  • What BIG goal do you have for the year?
  • What are your strengths (luckily, many have completed the Strength Finder, but now is a great time to revisit those)?
  • and then, wow, did you see that last question…

What does success at the end of the year look like to you?

How powerful is that question? It is incredible! It is one that I need to reflect on for awhile before I can formulate an answer. And then, it needs to be revisited throughout the year to see if that success is building or if what that picture of success was has changed.

What questions are you going to ask yourself before the year starts? What questions will you ask your students?

At the end of the FIRST day of school, will you be inspired? Will you feel ready to rock and roll? Will you have gleaned some insight into the personalities of your students? Or will you be without a voice and exhausted on your feet from going over the rules all day long, over and over again?

I hope you make the choice for inspiration!  Which reminds me of some great words from my high school Principal, Mr. Haver: “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.”
Happy back to school planning fellow educators!

–Celaina

Posted in Learning, Teaching

In the summer swing!

My last post was over a month ago, oops! Time to readjust my goals so that doesn’t happen again.

How has your summer been so far?

I’ve spent some time on campus for interviews (we still have a few openings in the department to fill), and I’ve spent a lot of time on my laptop grading AP Human Geography virtual school assignments. The past few days have been wonderful. I’ve had some lovely family downtime visiting Gma at the lake house, spending time with the kids, time with cousins, and just going with the flow. No real schedule of events. It has been great!

It has only been a week since I’ve researched, read, tweeted, or learned anything new really about instructional coaching, education, students, innovation, etc. My time learning has been consumed with AP Human Geography (which is really fun and fascinating). Now, it is time to get back into the swing of learning about coaching! Tomorrow is Day 1 of the Learning Forward Texas conference. I’m incredibly excited about it. My day tomorrow is all Jim Knight and then Thursday is all George Couros. I’ll be posting more here with my learning from both of those inspiring educators.

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

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!