Posts Tagged ‘Professional development’

Here’s this week task for the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge:

“What are your strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, successes in your current role?” screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-26-05-pm

I’ll break down the individual areas with some thoughts below.

Strengths: I’m a good communicator. I respond quickly to inquiries or requests. I share new tools, ideas, and resources via a Tech News often, but not too often. As a former classroom teacher, I know how much teachers are juggling and adding another email isn’t helpful every week, so I spread them out. I stay positive and try to remain neutral.

Areas for Improvement: I know that I need to continue to build relationships, even though I’ve worked in these schools for 22 years! I’d like to work more closely with our special educators and increase my awareness of their needs in their work with students. After research and a long approval process, we’ve just purchased Read & Write for Google for all of our district’s students, grades 3-12. I’m very excited to share and support folks with this incredible resource with all of our faculty and staff.

Challenges: Like many, I’d say that time is always a factor. Determining how I best budget my time and prioritize is always a challenge. I hope to model best practices and demonstrate that student needs drive our work. We’ve embarked on some new things this year that require shifts for all of us.(We’re dropping traditional grades and gradebooks, moving to standards-based learning and reporting; middle school students now all have ePortfolios that also function as a personal learning plan, to name a few!) My challenge is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to help make this a smooth process.

Successes: I’m extremely fortunate to have opportunities to offer professional development to our faculty and supporting staff members as well. I feel that those are well-planned and facilitated, offering support, encouragement, and ideas that can be implemented right away. It is not my intention to share cool techie tools. I hope that I communicate that curriculum and pedagogy come first, followed by a discussion of how digital tools might best support the learning.

Those are initial thoughts. I’m noticing how often I used the word ‘support’. I guess that’s a big factor of who I am and what I do. As always, I welcome feedback!

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Our use of green screen technology with video is expanding every day. We currently have a green screen set up (screen and lighting) in each of our two buildings, with more on the way. Teachers are excited to incorporate this into their programs to enhance and support learning.

Last fall, 8 educators from our schools gave up their own time to attend a green screen workshop offered one evening by RETN. (Regional Educational Television Network). The amazing facilitators,  Doug Dunbebin and Jill Dawson (@Switchback42), made a lasting impression on our teachers and from them to our students.

New videos featuring green screen technology have been created as a direct result of this workshop. The videos range from sharing about a field trip at the first/second grade level, to creating PSAs about Child Labor at the middle school level. There are more projects in the works as well and other teachers are joining in.

Thank you to RETN and Jill. Doug’s legacy lives on.




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I have the amazing opportunity to facilitate a meeting 4-5 times a year with our PreK-2 faculty. I thought I’d share what we did yesterday. Some of this stemmed from an observation in both of our schools that sometimes teachers ask students to do tasks that they themselves can’t do or haven’t tried. Plus, we’ll be adding Chromebooks to the mix at our PreK-2 building next year and it was time to highlight a few things that our youngest students might do with Google Apps. It resembled one of those “9 Things Teachers Should Be Able to do with GAFE” posts that I’ve seen, but I designed this one myself.

Teachers were asked to join a Google Classroom for the meeting, mostly as a way to distribute the doc to them, but also to model using Classroom. We talked later about how it helps to organize things in Drive; something that the teachers might find useful in the future.

Once they joined the Classroom, they each got a copy of a doc with directions and a Tic Tac Toe board. Here’s a link to a copy of the doc. The board looked like this:

GAFE for PreK-2

As you can see on the doc, teachers were asked to make Tic Tac Toe by completing at least 3 of the tasks. They needed to change the background color of the cell to indicate which tasks were completed. Underlined elements above took them to other links, sheets, drawings, etc that were collaborative. (not linked on the copy provided here)

There was a lot of energy in the room (we were in a computer lab) and a quick visual assessment showed everyone on task. There were not doing other work or things of a personal nature which is often the case at faculty meetings. Yay!

Near the end of our time together, we not only shared, but also completed surveys for one another that had been created, and provided the process for how things were accomplished. With Google Apps, there’s often more than one way to do things.

Finally, the group helped me by playing guinea pig while we tried out a new tool I had read about earlier in the week from Richard Byrne via Practical Ed Tech. It’s called dotstorming. Not only did teachers share thoughts on how they might move forward with ideas generated during our time together, but they also ‘voted’ on the ones they felt they’d actually try themselves. It was a great exit card. Here’s a link to the final board that was completed, ranked by votes.

All in all, we packed in a lot, but it was a very positive gathering, generated practical ideas that could be put into motion right away, and provided respite from work on report cards.

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Post 9 on the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).”


Well, that stumped me. I’m a fairly public person when it comes to my work, but the “that no one knows about (or may not care)” proved challenging. I even went to visit some long-time colleagues to see if they could trigger something for me.

Here’s what they suggested I write about; it feels like I’m tooting my own horn, but  oh well.

Last year in our supervisory union, we had consultants come in and assess the status of technology integration in the various schools. The outcomes were presented to the supervisory union school board and elements have been shared with our local school boards, communities, and faculty. I’m going to share some of it here now, quite publicly.

In the last 5 years, since I’ve been in the role of Technology Integration Specialist, I played a part in building upon and further developing a positive culture around technology integration. I also give most of the credit to the amazing administrator with whom I work, Walter Nardelli, and an even more remarkable faculty in two schools.

visionHere are some tidbits that were presented in the findings about the schools in which I work:

“When the vision is clear and leaders communicate plans and expectations and provide adequate resources and infrastructure, conditions for success are in place.”  (this in a paragraph describing the success in Williston)

“Students at WSD are more likely to have similar experiences in acquiring technology literacy skills.”

“Teachers at WSD understand expectations about the use and application of technology and are held accountable to meet these expectations.”

Part of the study was a survey for faculty. Here are some tidbits from the survey:

At your school, how frequently are educators exposed to innovations and technology integration strategies? 87% of those who responded said “on an on-going basis”.

Over the last two years, have you participated in school or district-offered PD that was in any way related to technology use? 85% of those who responded said YES.

Innovative, technology-supported teaching practices are recognized   98% said yes.

Educators are excited about learning new ways of using learning technology to improve student learning in their content areas or grade levels.  90% said yes.

We are thinking ahead- how do we continue to improve and provide deep, rich learning experiences for our students? Where and how can technology support that work? We’re fine-tuning our next steps. Stay tuned.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Celestine Chua: http://flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/12011208754

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Post #6 on the 30-Day Blogging Challenge asks: What do a good mentor ‘do’?


Here are some thoughts, in no particular order.

A good mentor:

  • Is supportive
  • Takes the time to build a relationship with youshadow
  • Challenges your thinking
  • Makes time for you
  • Connects
  • Provides constructive feedback
  • Observes
  • Listens
  • Guides
  • Trusts
  • Has your back
  • Helps you construct balance between personal and professional lives
  • Sets an example
  • Helps you reflect

I have been a mentor to a newer teacher and wish I knew then what I know now. My mentee is still teaching; I suppose that’s a good sign. As I reflect, I would say that I’ve been an unofficial mentor to others rising in the field of education as well – student interns, support staff, new teachers with whom I’ve connected.

I’ve also had the great fortune to have many people in my professional life I consider mentors, none of whom were officially assigned to me in that capacity, but nonetheless, served that role for me. You know who you are, I won’t name names. I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.

image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by dvs: http://flickr.com/photos/dvs/15495574

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observationToday’s post topic from the 30-Day Blogging Challenge says: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

I once was uncomfortable being observed. Now I relish the idea mostly due to the feedback I receive. I am the first to admit that I have room for growth (don’t we all) and welcome other perspectives on how I might grow and learn as an educator.

I think if I truly had to reflect and pick one observation area, I’d select that of Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques (from Charlotte Danielson’s framework). I’d like to further engage those with whom I work (adults or children) by asking powerful questions and generating rich discussions that impact learning. I will work to build my repertoire and observe those I feel do this well.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Ralph Hockens: http://flickr.com/photos/rhockens/3316651856

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As I mentioned recently in this post, I am going to try to join the 30-Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers. I may not stick to the suggestions for topics outlined in the challenge since I’m not a classroom teacher. I’ll adapt when necessary.

Here goes – Day 1…

My Goals for This Year   

Build on my relationships with faculty and staff. Relationships are key to all of our success.

Create and spread the word about a global project that will engage classrooms in our schools and beyond. We participate in global projects, but how about starting one?! I’m ready and hope to make an impact ongoalpost the students in our schools. Are you?

Support, guide, and explore the benefits of having our first 1:1 pilot, which we’re calling 1:World. Two teams of four teachers, one grades 3-4 and the other grades 5-8 will have enough Chromebooks for each student to call their own. That’s a first in our schools; we’ve been hoping for this for a while.

Developing a growth mindset for technology integration. Some of us are positive, some are not. Let’s all look forward. I love the bulletin board in this post. How can I adapt that for our work with integrating technology?

Win the school NFL football pool at least once this season. Hey, you never know. It’s happened before; it can happen again.

What are YOUR goals for this year?


Image: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by DBduo Photography: http://flickr.com/photos/drb62/2603563990

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