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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

This week’s #ETCoaches blog challengeHow do you plan to keep blogging? Do you have a frequency in mind? Another challenge to share? Did you find an editorial calendar for planning?

This challenge has been great in that it helped me focus once again on my blog. I liked the frequency; blogging once a week was do-able. I participated in another challenge a few years ago that was a daily challenge and that proved to be, well, challenging. I also liked connecting with some of the other ETCoaches who participated.

1471150324_a52068a957_zSo you are all witnesses to my new commitment. I will blog once a week, at least. I have been using Google Keep more and will jot down my ideas for blog posts on a note there. Sometimes it’s obvious what I can blog about, but other times I need a push, reminder, or suggestion.

As I stated in my initial post for this challenge, I don’t want to blog just for the sake of blogging. I want to stay positive. With all of the many things that occur in the course of our work as educators, there’s always something we could gripe about, but that’s not the purpose of my blog. And timely as ever, Richard Byrne shared a post this weekend about the goals of blogs. From that post, I connect with the last two goals – Encouraging others to write, and Helping other teachers/educators.

I am not going to pursue another challenge right now. Focusing on what’s happening in the schools in which I work, and on work that I am doing seem more authentic and important for me at this juncture.

Thanks for reading. Please help me stick to it!

 

Image Credit: via Carmelo Fernando Creative Commons/Flickr https://flic.kr/p/3f12JL

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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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Recharging My Blog

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As I’ve said in the past, sometimes I need structure to keep me on track. I have had so many ideas for blog posts during the summer and already at the beginning of this school year, but alas, the time has slipped away. I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since I posted.

Then, on Twitter recently, I came across the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge. Just what I needed to get back in the swing of things. Thank you to whomever is behind that!

My first post for the challenge – share the purpose of my blog. That’s a fabulous prompt as it truly causes me to reflect on why I have this blog.

Reasons for my blog and why I blog: 

  • Obviously, to reflect on my practice, which always help me learn and grow
  • To share great things happening in the schools in which I work
  • To help make connections with others
  • To stay positive (I don’t use my blog to rant and neither should you)
  • To help tell my story and that of our schools
  • To encourage others to blog, share, and get connected

I plan to continue with this Challenge, but will also get my readers caught up on what I’ve been up to since I last posted. Stay tuned and as always, feel free to comment and connect!

image credit: CreativeCommons flickr, kev-shine https://flic.kr/p/b3jjdD 

 

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Post 19 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeName three powerful tools/strategies students can use to reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.


 

 

reflectionStudent reflection is integral in the learning process. It helps them dig into the ‘why’ of learning. It helps them connect learning to other aspects of their lives. Reflecting on their learning using digital tools affords students with the opportunity to share to a larger audience, gives them all a voice, and recognizes their contributions.

Blogging: Regardless of the platform (our teachers are using Kidblog and Weebly), blogging is a fabulous tool. I like how it’s not content-specific. It’s not just a writing tool. Students can blog about any aspect of the curriculum, any portion of their day, and use it for reflection. The ability to comment and provide feedback for one another is critical to the process. Our schools set a goal a few years ago that I wrote about here. The goal was: Using technology as a learning tool, students will share and communicate learning with others within and beyond their classroom walls. Many teachers found blogging to be an ideal tool to support these efforts.

Exit Cards: I’d suggest Padlet as a tool to use for exit cards. It provides quick and instant feedback in a nice, visual manner. Teachers and students have used Padlet in a variety of ways, not only for feedback and reflection.

Backchannels: We have had a number of teachers at various grade levels use TodaysMeet for backchanneling. (There are other tools for this as well.) It helps those who often wouldn’t participate feel comfortable doing so and expressing themselves safely. They reflect, ask questions, voice their opinion, or share their perspective.

 

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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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Yesterday I had a follow up session with the participants from the summer course I facilitated about Becoming a Connected Educator. At first, it felt a little like we were young children at a birthday party. Many were initially quiet and reserved. A few started sharing. Then the conversation got going and the exchanging of ideas was quick and powerful. Realizing that this is what happens when we get together face to face, I reminded them of the value of relationships. We know one another fairly well, some better than others, and we’ve had this shared experience since the summer. We’ve connected personally. Why then, did we need to spend the time dipping our toes in the water at the beginning before we all jumped back into our cohesive group?

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/7cTJiJ by moonty

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/7cTJiJ by moonty

If we want to be connected educators, we need to be open to building those relationships and working to sustain them, just as we would in person. Relationships take effort and regular contact. One participant took the plunge last week and led a Twitter chat around the topics of literacy and technology. Someone from far away asked a question and wanted a resource that had been mentioned. My colleague was taken aback. How did this person find her chat when it was with people from our district? What should she do? I encouraged her to respond, provide the resource, build the relationship, and foster a new connection. All relationships take work, even the virtual ones.

We’re thinking about how we can illustrate our learning from the course and our efforts to get connected. We also want to communicate the value of being a connected educator for others in our district and beyond. The number of educators on Twitter, Google+, and other networks is growing, but there’s always that conundrum – how do those that are connected help those that aren’t? We want to do our part to, at the very least, get more of our local colleagues connected. We are planning a collaborative project… stay tuned!

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