Sunday, October 22, 2017

How to turn PD into a Party!

The fall is one of my favorite seasons. In Alabama, it means football Saturdays, cooler mornings, beautiful landscapes, sweaters and scarves, and a TWITTER PARTY at school!

We recently held our FIFTH annual Twitter Party at our school. It's a fun event where teachers get to learn about connecting and celebrating our school on social media, without the traditional "sit and get" learning!

When teachers came to the party, I told them about the different activities in the room and let them loose! 

One activity that teachers could complete was a twitter challenge

Each completed challenge went into a drawing for a $10 gift card from Target. There was a lot of great feedback from this activity, because it "forced" teachers to interact with the app and other twitter users.

We had a station where teachers could take selfies and post live with props! What fun we had with that one!

We have two large screens in our library's Community Room where the party was held. I used to highlight the tweets that our teachers were posting with our school hashtag, #hooverpride

If you've never used before, it's VERY easy and a terrific display for events. I used the free version, and all I had to do was enter our hashtag and the website did the rest! (If you've used it before, I would love to hear about the events you used it for.)

In another area, teachers could practice tweeting if they were nervous or newbies. (I created this in Powerpoint and downloaded it as a .pdf)

In another area of the room, teachers posted their twitter handles so that we could all follow each other. Looking for some new educators to follow? There are some good ones on that wall!

New for this year's party were Twitter Exit Slips. I used the Free Printable Letters from Shanty 2 Chic to create the banner (that I simply taped to the wall). Teachers recorded what they had learned on sticky notes and posted them on the wall below the banners. 

Notice the personalized sticky notes? They're easy to do. I've been a fan of Jen Hadfield and her website, Tatertots and Jello, for a long time. I used her instructions to create these DIY post-it notes.

At the table with the Exit Slips (DIY Post-it Notes), I also provided stickers that read, "I tweeted!" along with our school hashtag. 

No Twitter Party would be complete without cookies! A little Halloween candy never hurts either. 

Once teachers finished the Twitter Challenge, they could get started on their Twitter Bingo card. Twitter Bingo is a fun way to find a purpose for twitter, get in the habit of tweeting, and celebrate the awesome things happening in your school. 

I love this quote from one of our teachers. She said it while she was at the twitter party. Do you ever feel this way?

All in all it was a fun day of learning and celebrating each other!

Do you host a social media event/celebration at your school? I would love to hear about it! tweet me @jennifer_hogan or share in the comments below!

Previous years' parties:

Want to save these resources for later? 
Pin the image below for future reference.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A New Twist on Think-Pair-Share


One simple way for teachers to increase engagement in a classroom is to increase the number of students involved in discussion. To make this increase, the teacher has to realize that he or she cannot be a common factor in the discussion. 

Here's a description of a common "class discussion" 
     1.) The teacher provides ideas and insights about a topic.
     2.) The teacher calls on students to answer questions throughout the lecture, or asks the class for someone to answer the questions.
     3.) In a typical class discussion, the teacher is involved in every conversation, and there are only a few students involved in the "discussion."

Think-Pair-Share is a strategy that is easy to implement throughout a class period. To implement think-pair-share, the teacher asks a question to the class, gives the students a few minutes to think about their answer, then the teacher asks the students to turn to a neighboring student and share their answers with each other. The teacher can walk around and listen in on conversations, and after a few minutes the teacher can ask someone to share their conversation with the group. 

Using think-pair-share is one way to increase participation in the group. All students have to participate, it's "safer" to share ideas to one other person than in front of the entire class, and it's a low-prep activity that doesn't take up time to too much time to implement. If several questions are posed throughout the class period, the teacher can ask the students to talk to a new neighbor each time. This gives opportunity for students to get to know students that they otherwise may not get to know. 

The twist on Think-Pair-Share is adding in a written response. Write-Pair-Share does a few things. 
     -It allows students an opportunity to practice writing. Full sentences with correct grammar and punctuation is an option that may or may not be exercised, depending on the teacher's objective.
     -The teacher can ask that the partner give a written response to their neighbor's answer. These can be "Yes, and..." prompts or other prompts that help students dive deeper into the content. 
     -It can give the teacher insight into ALL conversations that occur in the room. By having students to turn in their written statements, it becomes a formative assessment that the teacher can use to gauge understanding.
How to implement Write-Pair-Share:
     -The teacher asks the students to have a piece of paper and a writing utensil on their desks, or an open Google Doc on a device.
     -The teacher asks the class a question, and asks students to take a few minutes to write or type their responses. 
     -The teacher then asks students to turn to a neighbor and share their responses with each other. The teacher asks students to also comment back to their neighbor on the response that was shared.
     -Depending on time allowed for questions and responses, the teacher could ask for a few students to share responses with the class as a whole. 
     -The teacher has the option to collect written responses at the end of class, or have students to share their Google Docs with the teacher. (Can also be done through Google Classroom).

What other low-prep ways can a classroom discussion be tweaked to include more students in the discussion? I would love to hear from you in the comments or on twitter. Let's talk!

Pin the image below to save for future reference!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Importance of What If Questions

I love asking "What if.." questions. They help me to think big... to think the impossible... to have hope. When I reflect on my blog posts, tweets, and comments, I tend to ask "What if" questions a lot. I also use them when I'm coaching or mentoring another person. Asking "What if" allows others to thinking beyond their current realities and barriers.

Over the summer, I shared the question below on twitter, and it resonated with many people. 
Here are a few other of my "What if" questions. 

(I led a book study via Voxer for teachers on The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman, coach for Michael Phelps.)

(blog post)


(blog post)

(blog post)

I shared on twitter how our school rewards positive behavior with Praise Referrals, and got asked the AWESOME "What if" question below...

By asking questions that push the boundaries, it can create a change in mindset and approach to a problem. "What if" also implies the hypothetical and sets no demands, which reduces anxiety about change. It does open doors for creativity and opportunity, and it sometimes exposes the root of the problem.  

When asking someone else these types of questions, it helps others to develop a vision for what could be. We also must remember that it can be overwhelming to some, especially in situations where the other person(s) is not used to generating ideas to solve a problem. 

Have you asked or been asked a "What if" question that you found impactful? I would love to continue the conversation. You can tweet me or share in the comments below. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 ideas for supporting new teachers

I am sure you have always heard, throughout practicums and internships, “You have to go into the classroom the first day as a new teacher. Be stern, straight faced, and heaven forbid DO NOT smile until Christmas.” I have to say that’s probably the worst advice anyone could give a new teacher. 

I would much rather have comfort in knowing some tricks of the trade, what to expect, what I need to do, and who can help when facing the world of teaching. I hope this blog can provide some insight into some of the successful tips I have had coaching new teachers. 

Eric Jensen, an educator with a rich classroom climate mindset, says, “I focus on what students need to succeed and build it into the learning and social environment every day.” 

How does one develop rich teaching? Here are some of my suggestions for supporting new teachers.

1. School Culture Orientation: It is important to integrate new teachers into the school culture prior to day one. If at all possible, teacher leaders and administrators should meet during the summer with new teachers to discuss school culture. This allows for all teachers to create and develop working relationships prior to meeting students on day one. Orienting them with “how things work”, “what things are like”, and “what are our culture/climate goals” creates immediate comfort because novice and rookie teachers are having the same conversations on an even playing field, so to speak. Having this day leaves a new teacher comfortable and confident to begin the year. Often during a professional development culture day, all “non-negotiables” are established. It can also be beneficial to have the student leadership team participate in this day giving the new teachers and students time to begin developing relationships. Never forget that when establishing expectations for teachers it is also our duty to help meet them.

2. Relationships: I have heard the quote, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is also very true for new teachers. As an administrator, building relationships with new teachers is so important. I asked several of my new teachers what they appreciated most when they began their work with me. Each one of them stated their appreciation for an open door policy and caring about them not just as a teacher but also as an individual. Every teacher is unique, just as every student is unique, so fostering individual relationships is key in feeling supported and valued.

"Every teacher is unique, just as every student is unique, so fostering individual relationships is key in feeling supported and valued."

3. Differentiated Professional Development: Every teacher in the school is at a different level professionally. It is important to meet the teacher where they are and support their professional growth. Having continuous conversations about teaching and learning with open dialogue about teacher strengths and weaknesses will help develop this culture.  I am a firm believer that teachers should lead other teachers from within. When there is a teacher in the building that has amazing classroom management strategies, have others that need work in this area go observe that model. Maybe there is a formative assessment expert down the hall. Administrators should never feel above going to “hold down the fort”  in a classroom so teachers can learn from one another. My principal and I call this “rust prevention”. Watching a class allows us an opportunity to teach from time to time which is really our first love anyway.

4. Celebrate Failed Lessons: Earlier, I mentioned conversations about strengths and weakness of teachers. Through thoughtful conversations and reflections, teachers are typically eager to learn; it’s just what we do. I have never had to tell a teacher that their lesson was a flop. Teachers will tell it  before you say anything. The key for new teachers is to cultivate the relationship that failed lessons are positive for teaching and learning as long as something beneficial is learned from the failure because then it turns the failure into a win. I love the phrase “reflect to redirect”. When we have reflected, and through the conversations instruction is redirected and improved, it is a total win for the administrator, teacher, and student.

5. Be Present: I made a goal several years ago to visit every classroom everyday. I have found being present desensitizes teachers, old and new, from thinking that you are only there to evaluate. Evaluation is part of the process, but being present to support one another speaks volumes.  It develops a mindset of collaboration. There is no me, or you; it is us. New teachers should see you in their classrooms for support instead of as a dictator and evaluator. I want new teachers to see me in their classroom so I can support them and  be there for questions no matter how big or small. After all, knowing what is happening in the school is most important. Being present creates the idea of support for your teachers by just being visible.  

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

Caring for new teachers #ALedchat

**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 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.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Please come observe me

As I start my 24th year as an educator (12th year as an administrator), it is extremely exciting when I come across an idea that is truly inspiring as well as being one that I believe will help me be a better leader. 

The members of our Compelled Tribe inspire me in different ways. Their blog posts reveal their vulnerability, passions, stories, and their experiences. I learn from each of them!

A while ago, I read a blog post by Arkansas principal Lindsey Bohler that got me fired up about the new school year! 

You see, I'm a big believer in relationships and teams. I also value feedback that promotes growth. These two reasons are why I love the #ObserveMe movement started by Robert Kaplinsky

Well, Lindsey wrote a blog post describing how she, the principal, was going to participate in #ObserveMe in her school!

Wow! I knew that I wanted to do the same this year at my school. 

Lindsey shared in her post how she decided on her goals, and she also shared a copy of her graphic that she will post outside her office. 

I totally copied her. :-)

I sat down with my favorite pen and a piece of paper and listed all the things I wanted to work on during the new school year. It was a long list, and paring it down to three focus areas was tough! It was a reminder of the exercises I had to do in graduate school, but this time I had a lot of leadership experience under my belt and it was awesome to go through the exercise. 

While I write my three words each year, I haven't written out my school goals in a while. (There's just too many! Ha!) Doing this was extremely satisfying and rewarding. I am very excited to start the new school year. 

My plan is to post my sign on my door to my office. I also will share my goals with the staff and ask them to give me constructive feedback. I've also asked the rest of our administrative team to give me feedback and join me in this adventure. 

I often say that "people learn more from what we do than what we say." I'm going to walk the walk and ask for feedback on my goals. I want to build on strengths and work on my weaknesses. I can only do this when I get rid of my blindspots.. and I'm hoping that participating in #ObserveMe will help me with this. I thought it was important to model vulnerability and transparency in another way, and I also thought this may be a creative way to assist me on my leadership journey. 

Did I mention that it's scary? Did I also mention that I hope that the feedback I get is helpful and not hurtful? 

Don't teachers ask these same questions? 

If you are a school leader and are doing this already or are going to join the #ObserveMe movement because of this post, I want to hear from you! Share in the comments or on twitter

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Key takeaways from the book, The Innovator's Mindset

This school year, some of our teachers have volunteered to be a part of a new group called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC. As part of our summer learning - as well as creating a shared experience - I led a book study with the group via Voxer on George Couros' book, The Innovator's Mindset. I had heard a lot of positive feedback about the book and seen some really great quotes from the book on twitter, and it seemed appropriate for what we are trying to accomplish in our PLC. 
As a side note, I will share with you that our school has a long history of being known for risk-taking. We have a culture and climate that gives permission to try new things. We encourage innovation, new ideas, and failures. We don't see innovation as a buzzword or a fad that will fade out over time; instead we constantly try to keep getting better and better at what we do for students. The book seemed like a natural fit for us, and after reading it, I can honestly say that it was (and is) a terrific resource for us. 

As a connected educator, many of the ideas in the book are ones that I have heard of, seen or discussed, and/or read blog posts and articles about. It was very powerful to hear the comments in the Voxer book study from teachers who were reading some of the ideas for the first time. I want to share with you some of my favorite parts as well as those that were most impactful for the group.

George's book is divided into 4 parts

     Part I: Innovation in Education (Chapters 1-3)
     Part 2: Laying the Groundwork (Chapters 4-7)
     Part 3: Unleashing Talent (Chapters 8-12)
     Part 4: Concluding Thoughts (Chapters 13-14)

Here's how we scheduled our book study:
**A question was posted from each chapter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
     June 12  Chapters 1-3
     June 19  Chapters 4-6
     June 26  Chapters 7-9
     July 3     OFF
     July 10   Chapters 10 - 12
     Aug 2     (F2F)  Chapters 13 & 14
The face-to-face meeting was valuable, because it gave teachers the opportunity to sit with their small group (who have the same PLC period during the day) and have discussions with the people they will be working with all year in their PLC. It was a wrap-up-the-book-study-and-kick-off-the-new-year collaborative hour!

In no particular order, here are my favorite takeaways from the book...

The three most important words in education are: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. Without them, we have nothing.
(page 68)

It is important that "innovation" does not become an event for our students but the norm.
(page 112)

Our world today is participatory; sharing should not be the exception in education but the rule. I want to note, too, that the use of technology does not lessen the value or impact of face-to-face connections. In fact, if we use technology to share on a consistent bases, face-to-face connections will likely improve.
(page 177)

Focusing on individuals' strengths that contribute to the vision of the school helps to move us from pockets of innovation to a culture where innovation flourishes.
(page 135)

A great teacher adjusts to the learner, not the other way around.
(page 38)

On page 212 in the book, George shares a story about a group of educators in Atlanta who would ask members of their learning community, "What did you learn today?" George's school adapted this and created a blog called 184 Days of Learning where learning community members could showcase their learning for every day that students were in the building in a school year. 

We talked as a group what it might look like if we were asking each other (all adults) as well as students, "What did you learn today?" We agreed that it would make us more aware of what we were learning throughout the day. We also thought it may shift students' focus on "getting the work done to get the grade" to more of a focus on what they learned while doing the work. Also, we thought it would shift the focus from teaching to learning.

I challenged our group of teachers in the ITL PLC that each time we see each other, we will ask the question of each other, "What did you learn today?" We hope that by our asking it of each other, it will spread throughout our school. I'll keep you posted on our progress!

This blog post was written as the summer reflection post for the Compelled Tribe. If you are a consistent blogger and are looking for a network, please contact me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Is time spent on social media worth the investment?

Sharing positive messages on social media about education is something I'm very passionate about. There are so many public perceptions about education that are negative and very wrong about what we do in our buildings, and if we keep quiet, there are limited positive messages out there to help shape or change perceptions. 

I recently sent out a tweet asking educators on twitter how they will continue - or start - to share their stories on social media during the new school year. 

I continue to be impressed and inspired by the educators on twitter who step onto the battlefield and fight the generally negative perception of education by sharing the awesome things that students and staff are doing across this country each year. 

In addition to sharing positive messages about education and potentially diluting the number of negative messages out there, another side effect to doing this. YOU will be happier. I promise. 

By focusing on the good in others, it brings a positive vibe to all that you do and share. You start to see and highlight the small things as well as the big things, and we know that an educator's school year is filled with many small, consistent, positive interactions that create an amazing experience for their students and colleagues. 

No matter what our challenges are, there will be something positive in each day that will bring joy. We have to look for it and celebrate it.  It DOES take time to create a twitter account. It DOES take time to tweet each day. It DOES take time to see the good in others. All of the time added up is minuscule when compared to the positive contribution you will make to your school's culture, other's lives, and your own life.

If you need ideas on how to tell your school's story, check out my digital workbook. It's full of practical tips and planning worksheets to help you make this school year one of the BEST. Let's challenge ourselves to answer the question, "What if every educator sent out 1 tweet per day of something positive in their school?"

"When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself."

Friday, July 21, 2017

13 blogging basics every blogger should know about

Do you ever have time in your life where different experiences seem to converge and create either a need or a solution? I have experienced this over the past few days and thought I would turn it into a blog post in case it could help others.

First event:
Recently, I posted what turned out to be a very popular post on how to host your own blog images without using a third party host. The blog post got a large number of views, and I got several DMs, text messages, and Voxes thanking me and asking for more help with blog images. 

Second event:
At the end of the school year, I asked if there were any teachers who would like to join a different sort of PLC for the 2017-18 school year, called the Innovative Teaching and Learning PLC (ITLPLC for short.) We have been doing a book study on Voxer this summer of George Couros' book The Innovator's Mindset (which has been awesome!) In Chapter 11, George asks the following Quesiton for Discussion: How are you actively sharing your learning with your school and global community? Several of the teachers in the Voxer group stated that they wanted to be more reflective and wanted to share their learning to a greater capacity. They also shared that they were afraid that they didn't have time to blog.

Third event:
Two different people who follow me on twitter have asked for consulting help with their blogs. They are at two different places with their blogging journey (as we all are), where one is just starting and one is at a standstill and wants help staying on track and committed. 

These events lead me to this blog post. I wanted to share some Blogging Basics. There is no magic sauce. Other people may have different ideas. Here's what I've found has worked in my 8 years of blogging.

1. Don't compare your blog or your journey to anyone else out there. You and your story are unique and should be shared and not compared. 

2. Make time to learn each day. While you will be blogging about things that you are passionate about and are knowledgeable about, the technical side of blogging will require you to Do the Work and learn something new almost each and every day. You will be uncomfortable, it will take time, and it will be rewarding.

3. Blog regularly. Whether it's once a week or several times a week, your readers will want to see regular posts from you.

4. Forgive yourself when you don't post. It happens to most bloggers, and it will probably happen to you. Give yourself permission to take a break, but make sure the "breaks" don't happen too frequently. 

5. Put your social profile links on your blog. Either use social media buttons or post your links on a Contact or About Me page.

6. Learn how to schedule posts ahead of time. You can write several posts at once and schedule them to go out at specific times. 

7. Use an online photo editor like Canva or Picmonkey to create graphics for your blog. Take your own photos or use free stock images to create eye-catching graphics. Use at least one image per blog post. 

8. Actively engage on twitter. Share links to your blog posts; include graphics from your post or that are relative to your post.  

9. Have an About Me page and a Contact page.

10. Include links to previous posts in your blog posts.

11. Leave comments on other people's blog posts and respond to each comment left on your blog. 

12. Use white space and readable typeface. Readers want to get through content fast. Try chunking content and leave a blank line between paragraphs. Make sure your fonts aren't too curly or hard to read. Avoid cluttered backgrounds and designs so that the readers' eyes can focus on the important part of your blog - your content. 

13. Keep a blog idea list. This can be done indifferent apps on your computer or phone or it can be as simple as written in a notebook or planner. Do whatever works best for you. Sometimes I start blog posts with titles only and keep them in draft mode until I can go back and expand on the topic.  

What would you add to this list? Leave me a comment below (and I will be sure to respond!) 

Pin this image so that you can refer to this post later.

PS - Thank you, Ashley, for the beautiful stock images above! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to host your own blog images

Recently, I had an overnight hospital stay for some planned surgery. I knew that coming home I would have some down time away from work, and I had planned to write some blog posts as well as do some maintenance on my blog. 

Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog last week and saw the following image several times in the right-hand margin of my blog! 

I went straight to Google to see if this was a common issue, and it turns out that it is. Photobucket, a photo-hosting site, without warning, changed its policies and limited third-party hosting to only paying customers. I almost fell out when I saw the price... $400!

Now, photobucket has(had) a great thing going. With as many customers as photobucket has, they could have charged us a reasonable amount and we would have accepted it and paid it. Unfortunately for them, there are a ton of comments across the Internet of people who feel like I do - that it is a ridiculous amount and they will find another option for image hosting.

I immediately turned to help from the Xomisse website. I found a blog post with instructions on how to host images on my own blog and not have to use a third-party site like Photobucket. 

(To see the instructions from Xomisse for Blogger and Wordpress, click HERE).

My instructions are for blogger, since that is the platform that I use for The Compelled Educator. 

First, open a new post, and title it "Images for Blog." You are NOT going to publish this post. You will only save it and close it, leaving it in draft mode. 

In the picture above, you can see that I uploaded new images for social media buttons (downloaded for free from this site) as well as our Compelled Tribe badge. 
Above, you can see the HTML code of the images that I have uploaded. If you are only uploading an image and not linking it to anything, you can highlight the code in YELLOW and paste into an html widget in your blog layout. Hint: Look for the second set of triangular brackets and copy the brackets and everything in them.

The href just prior to the image code will link the image to another "location." (See green highlighted text above.) 

For example, the social media icon containing the envelope will take blog readers to my email address. To do the same on your blog, use the following code just prior to the code for your social media icon. 

<a href="">

You need to change the text in red above to YOUR email address. 

For twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc... just change the text in the quotation marks (above) to the web address of each.

Pin the image below to try later on your own blog. Feel free to contact me if you need help!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 strategies for success with strong-willed children

Have you seen the video below? In the video, Aaliyah (the daughter of Nailah Ellis-Brown, the CEO of Ellis Island Tea) has her mind made up! 


I love the video because Aaliyah reminds me of my own daughters. I have two strong-willed girls that, when their minds are made up, won't change their minds easily. (I think I know exactly where they get that!)

As you watched the video, what words came to mind about the toddler? The dad? The mom? How does this relate to us as educators?

The mom and dad had different strategies when faced with the strong-willed child. Dad told Aaliyah the correct information over and over. Still, she wouldn't give in to what he was telling her. 

The mom (Nailah) had a different tactic. Instead of trying to convince her daughter that she should accept what Dad was saying, Mom asked the daughter to count to four. 

This is a great tactic when trying to change our beliefs about something. Sometimes we have to experience cognitive dissonance in order to change what we believe. 

Have you ever worked with a student who had certain beliefs that were hard to change? How about a strong-willed student? I've known educators who have reacted on opposite ends of a spectrum when working with strong-willed students. I've known some to  get frustrated and quit on students, and I've known some use patience and consistency as they work with students.

While there are some differences in dealing with toddlers and dealing with teenagers, I wanted to share 5 strategies for success from Cynthia Tobias:

Five Strategies for Success
1. Choose your battles.Don't make everything non-negotiable. Is this a battle worth fighting? Choose the things you want to go to the wall for and leave the rest alone.
2. Lighten up, but don't let up.Ask them, "Are you annoying me on purpose? If you are, you are so good at it." Smile more often. When you are a strong-willed child, nobody is all that happy to see you when you walk in the room.
3. Ask more questions and issue fewer orders."Are you about done with your homework? Are you going to mow the lawn before dinner? Are you about ready to go or do you want to be late?"
4. Hand out more tickets and give fewer warnings.Take more action and show less anger.
5. Make sure your strong-willed child always knows your love is unconditional.They have to know no matter how they act that you are still going to be there for them.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...