Posted in culture, Learning, Teaching

It’s been awhile…

So my blogging goals for last school year definitely slipped away from me! So back at it now, as better late than never, right?

Today was the first day of the Cy-Fair Digital Learning Conference. DLC is a great conference that CFISD organizes each year at the end of July. I think today they said about 1700 educators were in attendance–fantastic for summertime professional learning!  I went to a great session on PLCs. It is fascinating to hear about how other districts (and campuses for that matter) view PLCs. Some view it as something to be done and for others, it’s not even on their radar.

I also presented a session today on Blended Learning and how to use academic texts to facilitate discussion in any classroom. It’s my 3rd year presenting at this conference and I’ve enjoyed sharing my learnings each year on different topics. This year, Lindsey, the Science IC at my campus presented with me. It was fun to collaborate on the session and really great to see how no matter what content you teach, having students reading and TALKING about their learning is crucial to engagement, complexity, and deeper thinking and deeper meaning for students. I also was excited to share articles that can be used in Math classes as well as that is often something that is shied away from. But hey, I believe that we are all literacy teachers! Everyone has the responsibility to teach students literacy, and in today’s climate, it is also crucial that we look closely at sourcing and teach students corroboration!

Day 2 of the conference is tomorrow. I’m looking forward to presenting again with Lindsey and then checking out some Google tools.

Keep on learning this summer! What have you learned so far?? The school year is coming soon and it’s going to be a GREAT one!

 

Posted in #Immooc, Uncategorized

Strengths

Do you know what your strengths are? What about your weaknesses? Is that something you think about or talk about often? And speaking of weaknesses–I dislike that in an interview question. Do you like it? It is a tough one to answer when attempting to persuade someone to hire you based on your skill set, but then have to explain to them where you have deficiencies.

My husband is currently working on his masters (to gain administrator certification). One of his first assignments was to complete a Kiersey Temperament Survey. It was interesting to read his results as they fit how I view him already, but it made me look at his personality through a different lens when he and I discussed it. That conversation led me to start wondering about personalities and strengths.  In life, in teaching, in your day-to-day, do you know the strengths of those around you? Do you know their weaknesses? Do you use that knowledge to your advantage? How? With my husband, because I’ve known him for 15 years, I have a solid grasp (I think) on his strengths and his weaknesses. And I try to mindful of those when we disagree on things in our lives, with work or with our kiddos.  But for the teachers I coach, do I use that to my advantage? Definitely not enough. I’ve known them for only two years, but that should not be an excuse. The teachers here have completed the Strengths Finders training/survey and I have access to that actual data showing their strengths. That is something I need to start leveraging and using to become a better Instructional Coach.

So then, that makes me think and wonder further.  For teachers and for their students…how does knowing student strengths and weaknesses enable teachers to maximize student learning outcomes? If you know what your students are good at, how can you use that to further their learning? To inspire their creativity? To encourage more problem solving and critical thinking? How can you highlight the areas where your students excel so that you can build their motivation and self-esteem? I think you use it when planning lessons, when picking group arrangements for activities, when organizing reading and writing strategies, when planning interactive, hands-on vocabulary lessons, and etc. You should be purposeful when thinking about how the students as individuals are going to achieve their learning objectives for the day.  Which can be so HARD! When you teach 180 students and have to work hard to plan lessons to engage students, to cover the curriculum, to fit the vision of the campus, to follow the state standards, and etc, it makes it seem impossible to then break down those lessons even further to cater to the needs of individual classes or students.  How do you manage? How do you fit in innovation and use strengths to maximize the learning in classrooms?

It’s in pockets, right? In small pieces? You fit in some creativity here, some new strategies over there. You try new things, take risks, find out what works for you and for your students and what doesn’t. Then you go share! You blog, tweet, go to PLCs. You lean on your colleagues to give you inspiration and you lean on them to push you to keep thinking for new ways to teach, to inspire, to learn!

Posted in #Immooc, Teaching

The Land of the Book Study

In my previous district, we occasionally talked about what we were reading. I read a lot of fiction for fun, aligned my reading to a host of Young Adult books so I could share insights and hear insights from my students in my classes and in my homeroom class.  I had a group of  big readers in my homeroom and loved it!  But for professional learning books–we really didn’t do a lot.  I followed blogs, keeps up with an rss feed in google reader (before they discontinued it) and occasionally checked out a book about teaching social studies.  Fast forward a few years and move to a new city, new job, no students (but still in education)–now, in my job, EVERYBODY reads professional books.  Or at least pretends to read them, ha!

I started this job in August of 2015. It’s now January of 2017, so 17 months later and I’m looking at a stack of books that I’ve been given either as part of a book study or suggested reading, or I’ve pulled to read myself and the stack is tremendous!  I’ll post a picture next week when I can gather all the books from my home and work so you can see the size of it! I’ve enjoyed most of the readings and book studies, but definitely miss that stack of Young Adult fiction (like Legend, Cinder, Candor, Unwind, etc) and the students to chat with it about.

I’ve posted previously about meeting Eva Kor in October. Eva and her museum do a book study program where you can purchase 30 books for students and set up a Skype date with Eva.  Finally!! I can squeeze in some time with students to talk about reading and about history, my 2 favorite things!! I miss keeping up with Young Adult fiction, but I think Eva’s book is so powerful that it is easily filling that void of talking about books with students. We started our book study last week.  We’ll meet every week to discuss the chapters until the end of February when I will get to experience the students talking with Eva herself.  I’m feeling like the start of 2017 is going amazingly well!

What books are you reading?  For fun?  For work? Share your ideas so I’ll have new suggestions on what to read!

I’m reading:

  • Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Kor
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • A book by Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of…)
  • And I just finished Sycamore Row by John Grisham

A few of my favorites from last year include:

  • Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
  • The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros
  • Ditch that Textbook by Matt Miller
  • Better Conversations by Jim Knight
  • Lemons to Lemonade by Zimmerman and Garmston