November 5, 2017
There is always a heavy stream of information on Twitter or any other network you belong to on a myriad of topics and buzz words. Skim over a hashtag as of late and we see a million and one ways to do better with technology, implementing personalized learning, project-based learning, makerspaces, etc., etc. No doubt that this is the beauty of being connected in various spaces – to learn from anyone about anything anytime you want. These topics are good as well as important, but where my mind really focuses most lately is how we’re properly (or not) preparing our teachers for these things. We can talk the talk and claim we’re going to walk the talk, but at the end of the day are we truly willing to do what’s necessary to make the talk and the walk into a lasting change?
We have to be talking a long, hard look at what kinds of teacher learning opportunities we’re giving our teachers first in order to give them successfully to our students. Wanting to give students more personalized learning? Then that’s how teacher PD on the topic should be designed. Allow teachers to experience it as a student if you’re wanting them to create it for their students. I saw lots of tweets about this very topic earlier in the week, and all were in favor of it, but no one was talking about how they’re preparing teachers for it. If they were, it was outweighed by the “personalized learning for everyone” posts.
We also have to make sure we’re providing “regular maintenance” opportunities beyond the initial learning opportunity. It’s like a car – what happens if you don’t regularly get an oil change or have the tires checked? The car is going to not run as intended and eventually wear out. Now put that into perspective with professional learning. Are we giving teachers enough time to reconvene and share or at least reflect on what worked/didn’t work? This is key “maintenance” our teachers need. If there aren’t instructional coaches in place (technology or otherwise) that teachers can work with, we must incorporate more self-reflection into professional learning and have teachers share this with each other.
Our teachers deserve this and our kids definitely do. We have to make it a normal part of the “scheduled maintenance”.
October 4, 2017
I’ve been in my new role in my district for 4 months now. The fastest 4 months of my life. I’m learning lots and it’s happening multiple times a day. I’ve asked lots of questions and I’ve taken more handwritten notes than I have in years. It’s been great and I’m very thankful for being where I am.
Whenever someone asks me how things are going, these are some of the most common responses they usually hear from me. One thing I make sure of is letting others know how fortunate I am to have inherited such a great team. Now, this isn’t a touchy-feely post about how awesome my team is. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome, but that’s not the point of my writing. I still have plenty (and I mean plenty) to learn about the roles and duties of my position along with many more technology-related acronyms. 🙂 Also, I have much yet to learn about how to be a good leader. It’s something I will always keep learning about.
In my short time in my new role, I’ve come to discover, that the true earmark of good leadership is directly related to the team that you serve. I am only as good as my team. They teach me every day. I represent them just as much as they represent me. Whether it’s a tech department, a curriculum team, or the staff at a school, we’re truly better together than we ever could be apart. We need to remember this now more than ever. Our people and our functioning as a team are always worth investing our time and resources in.
My favorite Guardian of the Galaxy sums it up best: “We are Groot.”.
October 1, 2017
The term “personalized learning” is becoming more and more present in our schools. It’s important to do. Technology allows us to create personalized learning paths, differentiate, and give students options to demonstrate their understanding in ways that are more accessible and user-friendly than ever before.
It may sound trivial, but a great way to personalize for your students is by customizing how they see their teacher in these various learning environments. It’s easy to do, and it adds some nice personalization for when you’re interacting with your students online.
G Suite Profile
I see so many teachers that do not have a profile picture on their Google account. If you don’t have a profile picture on your account, the default is the first letter of your first name. If you’ve never put a profile picture on your account I highly encourage you to do so. Remember, your profile picture appears across all of G Suite: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Classroom, YouTube, Blogger, Keep, Sites, Google+, etc. For example, if you’re leaving a student some feedback in something they wrote in Docs, it adds nice personalization for them to see your smiling face along with your words. Or, if you’re emailing students or parents, it’s nice to see a profile picture along with your message. If you’re using Google Classroom, students see you in the banner of the class as well as with anything you post. If you don’t want to use a picture of yourself, use the Bitmoji version of yourself!
Adding text where it matters
There’s places where text is important across some G Suite apps as well. How about that signature in Gmail? I still see teachers and principals that don’t do this and it’s so easy. We want to know what school you’re at and what your role is! It looks professional and students and parents will appreciate it.
What about the “About” tab in Google Classroom? This is a great place to put more information about you and about your class. Students like knowing that their teachers are actual human beings outside of school. Share some things with your students about who you are as a person instead of them just knowing you as their teachers.
The same holds true with Google Sites and Blogger. If you’re using either of these to create a classroom website, are you putting an “About the teacher” page there? Again, showing your students who you are away from teaching doesn’t only make things more personal, it shows students and parents more about you which is great for making connections and building positive relationships.
Where to start
Going to https://myaccount.google.com/ is where you can always go to change your profile picture or any other settings related to your G Suite account. You only have to change your profile picture in this one spot and then it will appear across all of the Google tools.
Other educational apps
We have a myriad of educational apps and websites to use with our students to personalize learning. Any of these that allow you to add a profile picture and/or “about me” information, I would encourage you to add this level of personalization. It’s quick, easy, and it shows your students who you are.
Maybe if we do more little things like this to show our students who we are, they’ll feel more comfortable expressing to us who they are. This isn’t only great for their learning, but for their development as people too.