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.
June 30, 2017
How do you think we build a future? I think we build it by investing in our kids and investing in education.
Everyone has now returned from the beautiful chaos that is ISTE. I’ve been to ISTE several times now, and it still feels just as massive as the first time. However, this year was different in one big way. How was it different you ask? No, it wasn’t a product or app that I saw, it wasn’t a vendor party, and it wasn’t a particular presenter (way too many great ones to list anyway).
This is the first time I’ve attended ISTE as part of a group from my school district. In the past, I’ve always gone as just me; I attended on my own. This year, however, I was fortunate enough to attend with 10 other fantastic educators from my district. Our Director of Curriculum, one of our instructional technology coaches, 6 high school teachers, and 2 middle school teachers. This is a really great group with a great desire to be better for kids and a desire to help their colleagues be better too. It was such a pleasure to help them experience their first ISTE and learn from so many of my excellent friends. I was able to hear about their excitement first hand after listening to my friend Jennie give a standing ovation-worthy keynote, I watched them post selfies with other presenters that I knew they’d love learning from. I felt like a proud parent! 🙂
I just kept thinking, “Every person that attends ISTE should get to attend this way.”. I know many do, but I also know many that wish they could. That’s not to say attending solo cannot be impactful; just want to make sure that’s clear. And yes, many have a tribe of people that they only see at ISTE each year that they’ve become connected to through Twitter, blogging, and other connected means. Those connections are important too and a huge part of who I am. I love getting to see so many amazing friends that live all over the world…it’s the nicest feeling ever!
However, if you work for a school or a district and you have the means to take a group, please do it. Take your district leaders, school leaders, and certainly your teachers. As many as you can take. Plan now for 2018. It’s worth the investment I promise.