Friday, December 30, 2016

Readers' Favorite Posts of 2016

Hello, Friends! I love this time of the year because I get to catch up with friends and family while I reflect on the year and plan for the new one. I hope your holidays have been wonderful, too!

I'm thrilled about starting a new year with this blog. Thank you to all of you who have read, commented, and shared posts from The Compelled Educator. You light my fire and keep me lifted up as I pursue my passion of helping others become their best! 

I'm closing out 2016 with today's post of "The Best of..." It's always so much fun to read back through blog posts from the year and reminisce on what was going on at the time that caused the words to flow. The posts are the ones that were most-read, so grab your cup of coffee and let's go!





I'm always trying to learn, and one of the things on my list has been how to create a "clickable collage." You've probably seen them on other blogs where you can click the different pictures in the picture and it links to different sites, pages, or posts. I've been working on it today so that I could include it in this blog post. 

When I tried to go live with the post, I realized that my image map was not working. I've got to get back to the drawing board and figure out what is causing the issues. In the meantime, you can click the links below the graphics to access the blog posts. :-)



I was excited to see that #6 above was in the top 10 for the year. It's about an event at our school that was special for the recipient as well as for MANY of our students. Check it out if you missed it.



It's exciting for me that # 2 & #3 were both about twitter. Here's why it fires me up: 1) Twitter is THE best source for PD, 2) It's accessible "on demand" 24/7, and 3) Everyone who's on twitter WANTS to be there. The enthusiasm is contagious! I believe that school leaders have a responsibility to share the awesome things happening in their schools, and I hope to contribute to helping as many people as I can in accomplishing that. Educators and students deserve to have a positive story shared about them!



The most-read post of 2016 was a post about a movement that started in my Women in Education Leadership Voxer group. We were talking about ways to keep teachers and students motivated during the last month of school -- a month where engines are drained, motivation is low, and everyone's ready for a break. We shared ideas and resources for ways to celebrate and motivate teachers during May so that it would "fill their bucket" throughout the month. It was energizing to see the photos and ideas that were being shared on social media! 

Were any of these posts your favorite from the year? I would love for you to leave a comment or reach out on Twitter or Facebook

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make 2016 one of the best! 



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Classroom Hack: The Joy Jar

Starting a new calendar year is a terrific time to make new commitments and set goals, both personally and professionally. Since the new year arrives around the half-way point in most school calendars, it can be a time of renewal and excitement about what's to come. Relationships have been forged, procedures have been learned, and the classroom community is fertile ground for student learning. 

Today is a quick post about a classroom hack that can be started after the holidays. It's called a Joy Jar. The idea is that each day the teacher and/or student writes down something from that day to be joyful for and puts the slip of paper in the jar. Maybe it's about a student who normally doesn't come to class prepared who has his homework completed for the third day in a row. Or a student's mother has just returned from overseas. Or it a was a great day of learning and high fives. The point is... it can be something large... or it can be something that seems small. 

On the last day of class, the teacher reads the slips of paper from the jar. Not only will it be exciting to remember the special times from the semester, but the classroom climate that will result from the teacher and students being intentional about looking for joy each day will be very special. 

The jar can be decorated to "fit" the theme of the class. I'm a huge fan of mason jars, and there is lots of inspiration on my "Mason Jar Ideas" Pinterest board

I would love to hear about your favorite classroom hacks! Please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook







Tuesday, December 13, 2016

4 must-do items for 2017


As we wind up the last few days of school before we take a holiday break to relax and recharge for 2017, it’s a perfect time to create our “to-do” list of things to accomplish over the break so that we will be ready to start gaining momentum for the second half of the school year. 

Telling your school’s story is of great importance, given the media onslaught of negative education news and the uncertainty about what the future holds for public education. I strongly believe in public education and the possibilities that lie within school walls, and we need to share the awesomeness! 

Highlighting the awesomeness in your schools does several things:

     -It’s a terrific morale booster - getting recognized for hard work is always affirming!

     -It’s a culture changer  - teachers WANT administrators (and others) to come into their classrooms when they know that visitors are there to “see the good”

     -It’s a tool to inform stakeholders - parents, community members, business, and alumni can get a glimpse into the wonderful things happening in the school

Here are 4 things to put on your to-do list now:

  • Create a school hashtag. *Do a search to see if anyone else is using it. If not, it’s YOURS! When you get back to school in 2017, share it with everyone!
  • Find a “twitter partner” in your school. You don’t have to embark on this journey alone. Find someone else who will consistently tweet with you. You can light each other’s fire throughout the year!
  • Get familiar with Tweetdeck. You can schedule tweets here and create a column with your school’s hashtag in order to connect with others who are tweeting about your school.
  • Get familiar with Canva. Canva has all kinds of templates and free images that you can use to create eye-catching graphics that will help you tell your story on twitter. Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Source

If you're looking for an easy-to-use guide with step-by-step instructions and action plans, then download my digital workbook and start learning today! 

Twitter is not the only social media available to share your school’s story, but building a presence on twitter will also help you make professional connections that can lead to personal learning and growth unlike any other PD. 



 





Sunday, December 11, 2016

Teams aren't built on practice plans alone

Patrick Lencioni is a best-selling author of several books on management and leadership. I remember reading Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Three Signs of a Miserable Job and truly enjoying the parable-style writing of Lencioni. Those books inspired today's blog post, written Lencioni-style. 


Chapter 1
This is a story about Mike, a new high school basketball coach. Mike’s history as a basketball player makes him seem like the perfect candidate to be a successful coach, since he was an all-star player at his high school and now had returned “home” to take on a struggling team. You see, Mike really enjoyed playing basketball. He did everything he was told to do, at practice and even on his own by attending camps in the summer and off-season. Mike was now ready to put his experience and ideas into practice by, in his words, teach his athletes the game of basketball as well as some lessons they could use in life.

Mike only had 5 players on his team. He had enough to put a team on the court, and he told himself he would have time to build the program and get more players to join the program in the future. He met the players before the season and thought they all seemed like great kids - respectful, attentive, and polite.  He was eager to start the season.

As October approached and it was nearing the time for the first practice, Mike reminded himself of some of the drills he had to do as a player, and he also looked through a book of practice drills written by J.W., a successful high school and college coach. He felt like he had enough for the players to do for an entire practice, so he felt ready when the first day arrived.

Coach Mike spent the first 30 minutes or so showing the players the drills. Thanks to his morning pick-up games before school at the local church gym, he was still in good shape and his skills were still sharp. Mike went through each drill, demonstrating the skills for the players and then allowing volunteers to try them a few times. He made sure to ask the team if they had any questions about the drill before they were going to do it on their own.

With only an hour left of court time, Mike knew that his players needed to practice. He trusted his players to give good effort, so he left a list of the drills for them to do on their own while he worked on some other things in his office that he needed to get completed. The practice routine continued until the first game. With only 5 players, everyone would get to play every game.

At the first game, Coach Mike was surprised at the outcome. His team had lost by a large margin. He had seen some good things from some of his players, but there were other things he had seen that were not executed well. He realized that almost if not all of his players were not rebounding strongly. He understood that he didn’t provide enough opportunities for them to practice that skill. He found fault in himself with that one. As for the other skills, he blamed the players. “They’ve had opportunity after opportunity to practice the skills and get better. I’ve written good practice plans. They must not be trying hard, or maybe they’re skipping some of the harder drills intentionally,” thought Mike. He demonstrated more at practice. He really wanted his players to see what the skills looked like when done correctly.

Coach Mike wasn’t sure what to do about his players’ not reacting to different game situations that required them to use their skills at certain times. For instance, when he showed them how to anticipate a pass in practice and had a few players to try it while he was there, they did fine. They knew the skill itself. During the game, the players didn’t know when to use the skills they had learned at practice.

Was there something Coach Mike could do differently at practice to help them perform better in the game?

What advice would you give at this point?

How does this story compare to classrooms?



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



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