Sunday, December 4, 2016

Igniting Teacher Leadership


Teacher leadership looks different for the many roles teachers take on in their schools and districts, therefore there is no single definition of what teacher leadership looks like. There are common traits that teacher leaders possess that include 

  • being a reflective educator, 
  • believing in and promoting coaching and mentoring, 
  • skillfully utilizing technology to further learning of students and teachers, and 
  • possessing courage to take on new challenges. 

While these are not all-encompassing, you would be hard-pressed to find teacher leaders who don’t possess these qualities in today’s world. 

A misunderstanding about teacher leadership is that it means serving on a committee or leading a department or PLC. An article by the Association for School Curriculum Development (ASCD) defines ten possible roles of teacher leaders. 
  • Resource provider
  • Instructional specialist
  • Curriculum specialist
  • Classroom supporter
  • Learning facilitator
  • Mentor
  • School leader
  • Data coach
  • Catalyst for change
  • Learner

Dr. Bill Sterrett is an expert in the area of teacher Leadership. He is the author several books, including the recently published book by ASCD titled Igniting Teacher Leadership: How do I empower my teachers to lead and learn? He will be the guest moderator on Monday night’s Alabama Education Chat (#ALedchat) on twitter. 

Here are some questions to inspire your own thinking about teacher leadership. The actual questions will be given during Monday night’s chat. 

  • How does teacher leadership impact a school’s culture?
  • Can a teacher leader be defined as one who takes risks inside his/her classroom?
  • What advice would you give to a school leader who wants to grow teacher leaders?
  • How can teacher leadership lead to more satisfied teachers?
  • What are the characteristics and dispositions of teachers that make them ideal candidates for teacher leaders?
  • Does having teacher leaders in a school lead to “too many chiefs?” 
  • What conditions are needed to promote teacher leadership?
  • How might teacher leaders extend their reach beyond the school?

Please join us as Dr. Sterrett gets the sparks flying on Monday night! 


Everyone is welcome to join us Monday nights 9-10pmCST for #ALedchat. We value the insights, perspectives, and experiences of those in our PLN.

**Here’s a time converter to assist all of you around the globe in converting 9pm CST to your local time. 

TIP: If you have never done a twitter chat before, you may find it helpful to go to tweetchat.com and enter the hashtag #ALedchat. Sign in with your twitter account. The website will "filter out" all of the other tweets except for the ones with the hashtag #ALedchat. The website will automatically add #ALedchat to your tweets, and you will see a scrolling list of tweets from the chat on the page. (P.S. The hashtags are NOT case-sensitive.)

I'm one of the founders and hosts of this chat. If you have any questions, feel free to email me

Everyone is welcome. I hope you will all join us Monday night for #ALedchat.


Friday, December 2, 2016

One assessment practice in schools that needs to change


I heard it from one of our band directors yesterday… she said, “It’s not enough to know [the note], students need to know how to use the knowledge.”  Over and over we hear and discuss this important concept about application of knowledge by our students, yet we continue with instructional practices that reinforce knowledge-level concepts. 

As we approach the end of the semester, high schools across the country are gearing up for semester exams. At the end of the semester, students have spent about 18 weeks learning about a subject, and it could be a wonderful time to have a culminating assessment or opportunity for complex thinking and problem-solving. For so long the semester exam has been about how long the testing period lasts, how many questions are on the test, and a check to see if the student still remembers something that was taught several to many weeks ago. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provide a framework to help with progressing beyond the recall of facts to higher level thinking questions. Bloom’s Taxonomy asks, What type of thinking is needed to complete a task? while Webb’s DOK asks, How deeply do you have to understand the content to successfully interact with it? How complex is the content?




For teachers trying to move from recall to higher-level thinking questions on assessments, verb charts are a great help in the growth process. 


“Understanding is nuanced, it has degrees and facets, therefore, it's helpful to attend to degrees of learning: ‘To what extent do you want your learner to know something?’”  
                    -Israel Galindo, Wabash Center



~If we believe “it’s not enough just to know the information," how do we change our practices to align with what we believe? 
~What do semester exams look like in your school? 
~What could they look like? What needs to happen to make it a reality?

I would really love to hear from you about the semester exam practices at your school as well as your responses to the questions above. Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Will mentorship create better teachers?


Kids need the best teachers. To be the best, educators must be on a personal journey of reaching every student and helping students to maximize their potential. Teachers must also be able to see potential in students that the students may not be able to see themselves. To bring out the best in students, teachers must have confidence in their own abilities, too

How do we get better as teachers?

Simply put, mentors matter. 

John Maxwell states that mentors do three things for you:
  -Know the way
  -Show the way
  -Go the way

Pre-service teachers who are doing their student teaching in a school get to work with an experienced teacher who help the pre-service teachers prepare for their own classrooms. The student teachers get observed by their cooperating teachers as well as their university professors. But what typically happens when the student teacher gets his/her own classroom? Is there a feedback/growth loop? Is there a regular conversation that occurs between the new teacher and experienced teacher(s)? Who grows the cooperating teacher?

Mentors are important at every stage of a person’s career. Having the right mentor will give a person insights about his/her strengths and ignite courage. Be aware, though, that being vulnerable with a mentor is a personal challenge that must be overcome. This is especially difficult for teachers who are used to being the “expert in the room.” 

Dan Rockwell, a.k.a. @LeadershipFreak, gives 3 tips for mentorship: (read entire blog post here)
     1-You haven’t outgrown being mentored. Humble yourself. Arrogance blocks      growth.
     2-Transparency opens the door to mentoring. Share your dreams, fears, and      frustrations.
     3-Have many mentors. Learn from everyone.  
Monday night we will discuss mentoring on twitter at #ALedchat.  Here are some questions to get you thinking about mentorship. Actual questions will be posted during the chat. 
  • What role does the mentee play in establishing rapport with the mentor?
  • What qualities are important in a great mentor?
  • How important is reflective practice in a mentoring relationship?
  • What are the benefits of being a mentor?
  • Can mentoring and friendship be mixed?
  • Are virtual mentors as effective as face-to-face mentoring?
  • How do people grow as a result of mentoring?


Everyone is welcome to join us Monday nights 9-10pmCST for #ALedchat. We value the insights, perspectives, and experiences of those in our PLN.

**Here’s a time converter to assist all of you around the globe in converting 9pm CST to your local time. 

TIP: If you have never done a twitter chat before, you may find it helpful to go to tweetchat.com and enter the hashtag #ALedchat. Sign in with your twitter account. The website will "filter out" all of the other tweets except for the ones with the hashtag #ALedchat. The website will automatically add #ALedchat to your tweets, and you will see a scrolling list of tweets from the chat on the page. (P.S. The hashtags are NOT case-sensitive.)

I'm one of the founders and hosts of this chat. If you have any questions, feel free to email me

Everyone is welcome. I hope you will all join us Monday night for #ALedchat.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

What is High Quality Professional Development?


The list of complaints about professional development is long…

  • Too much “sit and get”
  • What is being taught is not being modeled
  • “Drive-by” approach with no follow up
  • Emphasis on education fads
  • Too general; no direct impact on instruction
  • __________________ (*I bet you can fill in the blank)


In 2012, then U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asked “What do you think we spend on professional development each year? $2.5 billion. But when I say that to teachers they usually laugh or cry. They are not feeling it. We have to do better with professional development money.”

Why do we continue to sit through, tolerate, and provide low quality professional development?

According to research, there are 5 characteristics of high quality professional development:

  • Aligns with school goals, state and district standards and assessments, and other professional-learning activities
  • Focuses on core content and modeling of teaching strategies for the content
  • Includes opportunities for active learning of new teaching strategies
  • Provides the chance for teachers to collaborate
  • Includes follow-up and continuous feedback

How can we be a part of the solution and not the problem? Discuss it with educators from across the country on Monday night, November 21.


Everyone is welcome to join us Monday nights 9-10pmCST for #ALedchat. We value the insights, perspectives, and experiences of those in our PLN.

**Here’s a time converter to assist all of you around the globe in converting 9pm CST to your local time. 

TIP: If you have never done a twitter chat before, you may find it helpful to go to tweetchat.com and enter the hashtag #ALedchat. Sign in with your twitter account. The website will "filter out" all of the other tweets except for the ones with the hashtag #ALedchat. The website will automatically add #ALedchat to your tweets, and you will see a scrolling list of tweets from the chat on the page. (P.S. The hashtags are NOT case-sensitive.)

I'm one of the founders and hosts of this chat. If you have any questions, feel free to email me

Everyone is welcome. I hope you will all join us Monday night for #ALedchat.


Related Posts: 
Make this one change to PD and see what happens
PD activities that get positive feedback from teachers
When it comes to PD at your school, is anyone being overlooked?
An easy and awesome tool to flip your PD



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