Friday, March 20, 2020

How twitter can serve as a COVID-19 school resource

create a hashtag on twitter by

How can twitter serve as a COVID-19 school resource?

With the "new normal" that we are all facing and trying to navigate during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantines, this post has a sense of urgency about it unlike anything we've ever faced. 

We're all looking for ways to connect with our school communities and decide which method is most effective. When I'm asked, "Should we use twitter, email, Instagram, or Facebook?"  I just say, "Yes." 

If you've got people who can assist with the different methods of outreach, it's time to deputize folks to assist in staying virtually connected when we can't physically connect. Use as many modes of communication that you can effectively manage. 

This post focuses on connecting via twitter. One of the reasons I love twitter and am a huge fan is because of the number of educators on the platform. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been so many educators who have shared resources, ideas, support, and even funny memes to lighten the load. We are truly better together!

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This blog post is about a game-changer that every school leader who uses social media should know about. If you are a school leader, keep reading, and use the ideas in this post. If you're not a school leader, keep reading and share this post with your school leader. AND, offer to help. 

In my digital workbook, Telling your School's Story on Twitter, I go into detail about creating a school hashtag along with other ideas for how and when to tweet, ideas for creating graphics, along with connecting the school with the community. 

Not having and using a school hashtag is a missed opportunity.

It's something I notice when I'm connecting on twitter... I see a tweet about an event in a school somewhere, a celebration of students or staff... and there's no hashtag. Not using a school hashtag is a missed opportunity for connection.

Twitter as a search engine

School hashtags allow stakeholders to “find” tweets about your school by doing a search for your hashtag. They can click on the hashtag in the tweet and see all of the tweets containing that specific hashtag. Imagine what it would be like if parents, teachers, students, alumni, and other stakeholders all used the same hashtag when tweeting about the awesome things happening in a school's community. It's a powerful way to get a "big picture" about a school as well as keep parents informed about successes that may not make it to the newspaper... things like a friendly librarian who makes kids want to request a book and drive through the check-out line, a lunchroom worker who serves meals and knows everyone by name, a lesson online that results in excellent problem-solving practice.... I'm sure you can think of many more examples!

How to create your school's hashtag

There's no "rule" about what you can use or not use for a school hashtag. Keep it pretty short in length, because the characters in the hashtag take up some of the characters you can put in your tweet. Examples include #(schoolname)pride, #go(mascot), or #(schoolinitials)(mascot). This would look like #hixsonpride, #gospartans, #LHSCowboys. For other ideas, check out different school leaders to see what kind of hashtag they use to promote their schools. 

Before deciding on what you will claim as your school hashtag, check to make sure it's not already being used. You can do a search on twitter with the potential hashtag, and if it's not being used or was used only a few times a few years ago, GO FOR IT! 

Here are 4 places to share your school hashtag:
  • School marquee
  • In your email signature
  • In your twitter profile
  • In your school's digital newsletter

Do you use this simple, yet effective, method of telling your school's story on twitter? I would love for you to share this post and tag it with YOUR school's hashtag! 

Monday, March 16, 2020

The COVID-19 Self-Care Challenge

Allyson Apsey and I have a goal to come out of this unexpected break better than when we entered it, and we have challenged each other to come up with a list of things we will do every day to take care of ourselves and others. We know that many other educators have the very same goal and that we are better together, so we're sharing our ideas with you.

As educators, we love the flexibility in our typically tightly-structured schedule that comes along with school holidays. But, if we were really being honest with ourselves, we usually function best with a schedule and a mountain of things on our to-do list. It will be tempting to binge-watch television series during our COVID-19 break, and there is no shame in doing that, but we will feel much better if we also feel accomplished. 

We’ve each created our own self-care challenges, personalized to our needs and goals. To help us keep some normalcy and know that we’ve accomplished some valuable things while on the break, we’ll also check in with each other on our progress. 

Here’s a list of self-care challenge ideas we generated:

  1. Go for a daily walk
  2. Drink a gallon of water daily
  3. Learn something or create something
  4. Check in on someone new
  5. Exercise first thing when you get up
  6. Read 30 minutes each day
  7. Spend 1 hour learning - podcasts, webinars, books, online courses
  8. Post a thought online - a blog post, image, quote, or new idea
  9. Write a thank you note
  10. Give a social shout-out to someone who has inspired you
  11. Clean out & declutter a cabinet, drawer, or shelf in your home
  12. Meditate
  13. Keep a gratitude list
  14. Make your bed every morning
  15. Do something you’ve been putting off
  16. Spend time with at least one family member
  17. Organize something
  18. Walk or run at least a mile every day
  19. Unplug from the TV
  20. Watch a sunset or sunrise

Right now it feels like we have this wide expanse of time ahead of us. But, increased family responsibilities, illness, rescheduling things, and so much more will eat up lots of our time. 

We decided that 20 items on a list was WAY too many, so we challenged ourselves to pick 5-10 things to add to our self-care challenge. 

What did I pick?

Jennifer's list:

  • Work out each day (My post-surgery wait time is over & I’m feeling better & ready to return to working out)
  • Drink a gallon of water each day
  • Choose a drawer or closet to organize and/or de-clutter each day
  • Walk each day
  • Keep a gratitude list
  • Connect with someone each day - phone, Voxer, twitter, email, etc.

Here's what made the cut on Allyson’s list:

  • Workout right when I wake up
  • Learn something or create something
  • Check-in with someone new
  • Drink a gallon of water
  • Stay within my calorie goal
  • Organize something
  • Check 2 things off my to-do list
  • Run or walk at least one mile

Allyson is going to hold herself accountable by using the DONE app.

(She signed up for the paid version when she started the #75Hardchallenge.) The free version only allows a list of 3 things. Since I've got more than 3 things and the paid version doesn't fit in my budget, I'll be using a paper journal to keep track of how I do on the challenge. 

Allyson and I both know that taking care of ourselves helps us be our best in order to take care of others and that self-care is not selfish

We both included connecting with someone each day as part of our routine. Our goal in creating a self-care challenge is to inspire others to be their best as we collectively and individually try to turn a tough situation into one that is productive, supportive, and energizing. 

Please share your self-care list using the hashtag #COVID19selfcare.

Want to hear more about the challenge? Listen to our latest podcast episode!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Improve your teaching by getting feedback from your students

Throughout the school year, I work with our new teachers to make sure that they get time with me, with each other, and time to learn. In small groups of 3 - 5 teachers, I meet with the groups 4 times throughout the school year.

Prior to our last meeting, I shared with them an article by Jennifer Gonzalez from her website, Cult of Pedagogy. (If you haven't visited her website, do yourself a favor and go there now!)

The article is titled, "5 Reasons You Should Seek Your OWN Student Feedback," and in it she shares the 5 benefits and the 3 "how-to" steps to gathering student feedback. 

RELATED POST: No more scores, only feedback

One surprising benefit

Of the 5 benefits, there was one that kept surfacing thorughout the day as I met with the new teacher groups. Jen Gonzalez shares "bully prevention" as a benefit of collecting student feedback. One of the questions that she says should be included on a student feedback survey is, What else do you think I should know?

By asking an open-ended question, it allows students to share information with you that may not have anything to do with the instruction. They may share issues they're having with another student, how they feel about the temperature in the room, where they like to sit and how they learn best. 

Teach students how to give feedback

In the article, Gonzalez suggests that students should be taught the difference between "constructive" feedback and "mean" feedback. With anonymity rampant on the Internet today and the ability for consumers to give ratings, students may not understand how to give feedback that is actionable and helpful. If we teach them how to share information that helps a teacher to get better, we will have a better chance of getting constructive feedback. 

ACT on the feedback

Lastly, Gonzalez states several ways to act on the feedback and not sit on it. 

She writes, 
  • Talk. Then talk some more.
  • Look for patterns.
  • Dig into the mysteries.
  • Solve the easy problems.
  • Watch your ego.
  • Notice the positives.

A few of the teachers in the meetings had already given their students a survey after I had sent out the article to them. They were able to share how they had followed the suggestions in the article, and things they wish they had done differently. All of them said that they wished that they had given the survey earlier in the year so that they could have gotten the feedback sooner in the year. 

My expectation that I shared with our new teachers is that by our next meeting (early May), they will either have their survey written and ready to share with students or they will have given their survey by then. 

On a final note, I reassured our new teachers that I didn't want to see the results from their students. My goal for them was to learn from the students they serve and grow as a reflective teacher. I also let them know that I was going to be sending out a feedback survey to our staff members soon, so that I could get feedback for my own growth. (One of my tenets of leadership: Never ask others to do something that I'm not willing to do myself.)

Do you get feedback from the people you serve?

What ideas do you have to solicit constructive feedback?

I would love to connect with you via Twitter or on the Compelled Educator Facebook page. Feel free to reach out!

*If you're looking for ready-made surveys, Gonzalez provides links to her Teachers-Pay-Teachers site at the end of the article. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Leading in the new decade {Podcast episode}

I'm thrilled to re-introduce you to Rising Tide Radio, the podcast created and hosted by me and my friend, Allyson Apsey

We kicked off our podcast a year ago, and it started out with monthly epsiodes. But when school started in August of 2019, we got caught up in the busyness of school and didn't connect to continue the podcast. 

As the calendar year closed out and we kicked off a new decade, Allyson and I renewed our commitment to Rising Tide Radio, and we'll publish a new episode every other week in the year ahead. 

The first episode of 2020 is titled, Leading in the New Decade, and we discuss 4 main ideas (Listen in to hear our thoughts about the ideas listed below)

  • The importance of leading ME in the new decade
  • Leading and learning from new leaders
  • The importance of continual learning - (new generations, new social media, new trends, new research, about what motivates teachers since too many are leaving the profession) - it's a journey, not a destination!
  • Using different modes of communication; the importance of keeping relationships at the forefront of communication as we continue to move into using text more frequently than voice

In every episode, we share resources to further your learning, and we always close with a challenge. If you hear something you like, we'd love for you to share it on social media using the hashtag #RisingTideRadio

Sunday, January 12, 2020

How to make a visual bucket list and why you need one

Have you ever created a "visual bucket list?" I'm about to create mine, and I thought I'd share my process with you in this post.

Recently, we challenged the members of the Compelled Bloggers Community to write a post about what's on their bucket list. I realized one important thing as I sat down and tried to write mine. 

I needed to not only write a blog post about my bucket list, but I needed to get it out of my head and into a visual place where I could see it every day. 

Oh, I have a lot of things on my bucket list (and it doesn't include bungee jumping or skydiving!), but I know that I need reminders and "visual cues" so that I can turn my dreams into realities. 

I know that I'm not alone in needing the visual nudging.

In 1996, researchers at Michigan State University identified over 200 emergency room patients with lacerations who were given instructions on how to care for their wounds at home before being discharged. Half of the patients received text-only instructions. The rest received the same text accompanied with images, specifically cartoons that illustrated the written instructions.

Three days later, the research team followed up with the patients  to see which individuals were more successful in following their home-care plan. Almost half (46%) of the people who received the images along with the instructions were able to answer each of the wound-care questions correctly, but only 6% of the text-only group were able to answer successfully.

Even more intriguing (as it relates to achieving goals) individuals in the visually-enhanced group were 43% better in terms of their adherence to the instructions than the text-only crowd. Wowser! I better get to creating my visual bucket list!

As I started to research ideas for HOW to create a visual bucket list and look for inspiration, I found a few to share with you. 

For the family Summer Bucket List above, it was as simple as talking to kids to create the list, finding photos on the Internet, pasting them into a document, then cutting them apart and posting on a bulletin board.

For the visual bucket list above, it a simple can that has been decorated with the bucket list items written on wooden clothespins. When you complete something, you drop it in the bucket. 

I have friends who are huge fans of Disney. I think this is a cute idea to write the items in an identifiable shape and highlight each one after you do it. This works when you have a main theme that ties all of your ideas together (Think plane for travel bucket lists, beach umbrella for a summer beach trip, or a house if it relates to the home.)

I love the visual bucket list in the photos above. When an item on the bucket list has been completed, the butterfly goes into the jar on the table below the awesome display of butterflies. You can read the items found on the 101 butterflies HERE.)

The picture above is from an activity that a teacher did with her students. They brainstormed their lists, she used a template for the students to create their own buckets, and she created a bulletin board to display. You can read the entire post HERE.)

Teachers, what if you created this with your students at the start of school for the year together, or what if you created a summer bucket list in May with your students?

School leaders, what if you did this with your staff?

District leaders, what if you did this with your principals?

After I shared My 3 Words for 2020, I got some DMs from friendly folks who shared stories about the envelope system, helpful budgeting apps, and more. One of the apps that was shared with me is Hip2Save. I haven't downloaded it yet, but I thought it was fun to find this FREE printable from Hip2Save

What's on my bucket list?
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Write a book
  • Take a pottery class
  • Learn sign language
  • See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
  • Run a marathon
  • Sing karaoke (in public)
  • Live debt-free

What's on yours?

Delp, C. and Jones, J. (1996), Communicating Information to Patients: The Use of Cartoon Illustrations to Improve Comprehension of Instructions. Academic Emergency Medicine, 3: 264-270. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.1996.tb03431.x

Sunday, January 5, 2020

How to plan for a year of blog posts {Free Printable included}

Blog-planner by @Jennifer_Hogan

I am so excited to share today's blog post and FREE resource with you! 2019 was a slower year for me with blogging, and part of it had to do with one of my 3 words for 2019. I made deliberate choices to say yes - and to say no - in 2019 so that I could honor my needs (which I had neglected too often) during the year. 

Now that we're into 2020, I created a 12-month blog planner that can be used any year! It's a perpetual calendar that can be printed and used at any time. 

The blog planner is based off of a popular post I wrote titled, 50 blog post ideas for educators

Each month, there are 3 topics for you to choose from. Choose 1 or choose all of them. Totally up to you and what you have time and desire to accomplish. 

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

It's free without any sign up, no strings attached.  Just click HERE or the image below to download your copy of the 12-month calendar I created for you!

Blog-planner by @Jennifer_Hogan

Know someone who has been struggling with being consistent with blogging? Be sure to share this post with them and encourage them to download and follow the calendar so that they can have their best year yet!

I would love to hear from you on how it's going each month! Just share using the hashtag #CompelledED. 

Are you in?

Pin now, share later >>

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Using data to drive instruction

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting

For all the Fixer Upper fans reading this post, you are going to totally relate to it. 

If you don't know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are, or that Chip LOVES demo day, you will have a greater understanding after reading this post. :-)

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I enjoy analyzing data and using it to find strengths and weaknesses and get better at what ever it is we need to improve. 

I wrote a collaborative blog post with Bob Starkey, the Assistant Coach for the Texas A&M women's basketball team, titled Why Data is Not the Villain

I also wrote a blog post describing a data meeting we held at our school, which was an encouraging and empowering meeting for our teachers who were not used to reviewing standardized assessment data. 

Data can and should be used to help identify areas where there are weaknesses. It passes no judgment, it only notifies and highlights those areas where we are not strong. It shows us not "what was taught," but "what was learned."

For example, If I follow an eating plan and hope that I lose weight and inches, I will use data from a scale or measuring tape to inform me of how well the diet plan is working. I will know if I followed it closely or not, and keeping a food journal will help me to have even more data to use for determining if there are improvements that might need to be made. 

Data is not about adding more to your plate. Data is about making sure you have the right things on your plate.  

I recently attended a workshop for the International Baccalaureate program, where I met some really thoughtful and incredible educators. One of them was Kurt Nuss

Kurt, sharing another awesome insight

Kurt is the kind of guy who is full of analogies, a great listener, and a sharer of awesome ideas. I took so many notes when he spoke that my hand started to cramp, and I realized that he is someone that I want to stay connected with long after the workshop.

I asked him if I could share his data day analogy on my blog, and he said yes! I'm a fan of the HGTV home decorating and DIY show, Fixer Upper, and I love watching the husband and wife who star in the show, Chip and Joanna Gaines. 

Chip and Joanna work with clients to remodel and renovate the "worst house on the block" in Waco, Texas. Chip acts as the lead contractor and Joanna is the designer. What you'll see in every episode is just how excited Chip gets about Demo Day. It's the day that they go in and start ripping down walls, cabinets, fixtures, and more. 

At the IB workshop, we started talking about data, and Kurt told us about how at his school, he teaches his faculty that Data Day is like Demo Day. How so? On Fixer Upper's Demo Day, that's when Chip learns about the structure of the house, if there are any hidden secrets that Chip needs to fix, and what exactly they need to build the house back so that it's better than before. Kurt makes the point that Chip sees all the ugliness and areas that need improvement so that he can put together a plan to build it into a fantastic home. 

I thought the analogy was awesome. Sometimes we DO get data that we don't like or that we wish were different. But without having it and knowing what needs to be improved, we can't get to where we need to be. 

Chip loves Demo Day! He loves it not because it makes the house look ugly or so that he can find a ton of problems. He likes Demo Day because he can find the weaknesses, and he's able to turn them into strengths. 

Just like Chip, we can approach Data Day like he approaches Demo Day. We can look forward to finding the ugly, we can create a plan and work collaboratively to build a masterpiece.

In Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction, by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, he gives us some questions to help us dig deep into data results: 

Larger Picture Questions
* How well did the class do as a whole? 
* What are the strengths and weaknesses in different standards? 
* How did the class do on old versus new standards taught? 
* How were the results in the different question types (multiple choice vs. open-ended, reading vs. writing)? 
* Who are the strong and weak students?
“Dig in” Questions
* Bombed questions – did students all choose the same wrong answer? Why or why not? 
* Break down each standard – did students do similarly on each question within the standard? Why? 
* Sort data by students’ scores – are there questions that separate proficient and non-proficient students? 
* Look horizontally by student – are there any anomalies occurring with certain students?

When teachers examine and analyze data, there must be an action plan to follow that is based on the results. 

Below are some strategies from Driven by Data that will help ensure that the action plan will be implemented in classroom instruction.
* Re-write and tighten objectives: Teachers should use assessment results to focus the objectives of future lessons on the areas students need improvement. The more specific the objective, the better. 
* Do Nows / Bell-ringers: During the quick 5- to 10-minute assignment to start the class is a perfect time to review those standards outlined in the action plan that require more attention. Teachers can include questions students struggled with in the last assessment. 
* Differentiation: When the action plan calls for targeting certain groups in the class with specific needs, differentiation can be a good strategy to work with those groups while others work independently. 
* Ongoing assessment: Constantly checking for understanding (for example, having all students write an answer on a white board and hold it up to show if they understand) is an effective way for teachers to see if the action plan is achieving results. 
* Peer-to-peer support: A student who has mastered a standard can help another student, identified from the assessment results, as needing help.  
* Homework: Re-design homework to target those areas that students need to review according to the action plan. 
* Outside of the classroom: Have students who struggled on the assessment come to a breakfast club or guided study hall for extra practice or provide afterschool tutors with assessment results so they can help students with their specific weaknesses.

So, let's get excited about breaking down data and reviewing our strengths and weaknesses. Then let's make a plan for getting better (and follow through). Just like #DemoDay!