Sunday, March 22, 2015

Teachers' Expectations, High or Low, are Always Met

In our teacher training, we're taught the concept of the Pygmalion effect. We learn that students will live up to the expectations that are placed upon them. When teachers have high expectations for students, the teachers unconsciously give more positive attention, feedback, and learning opportunities to students. 

Learning information like this prepares teachers for the day when they walk into the classroom and stand in front of 25 students and make a first impression. That first impression that is made will come from the teacher's belief about the students prior to that moment. And what about the subsequent days. Over time, the longer a teacher is in the classroom, do the teacher's beliefs about students fade, get higher, or even change completely? Each day, the teacher's expectations will be communicated through body language, tone of voice, inflections, and word choice.

Invariably, in the classroom a teacher's expectations will be met. 

  • If a teacher expects students not to do their homework, they won't. 
  • If a teacher expects he or she will have to raise his or her voice to get students to behave, he will.
  • If a teacher expects students to try their best, they will.
  • If a teacher expects students to misbehave, they will. 
  • If a teacher expects that he or she will enjoy learning about the students - as people - while helping them to learn, he or she will.

In your classroom, what if you find that your students and the classroom are not meeting your expectations? What can you do?

Here are some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do I separate the student from the behavior?
  • If I can't change the students, how can I change my view of them?
  • Can I do anything to improve the outcome?
  • Am I teachable?

What's been your experience with teacher expectations?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Work is Love Made Visible

I've attended many parent and IEP meetings for students. When I was in the classroom, I always taught (and asked for) inclusion classes. I also wanted to attend IEP meetings so that I could meet the parents and share my input there. As a grade level administrator, I’ve attended many parent and IEP meetings for ninth graders over the last four years.

In a recent meeting, a special education teacher who was conducting the meeting told the parent about the student, her child, 

“He wants to do his work; he wants to make us happy.” 

In other words, the work was about behavior. It was about compliance.

It got me thinking.

About the work that kids do, and the work that we do.

Work is important. It teaches discipline. It brings satisfaction and pride. I learned from a great coach early in my career that self-esteem doesn’t come from telling someone positive things. It comes from completing tasks successfully. Give a person tasks that he can complete with success, and gradually give him increasingly challenging tasks. Praise and recognition of completing the tasks will a positively to a person’s self-esteem.

When the teacher is the only audience for student work, it’s easier for the work to be about compliance. It’s personal. It can become more about “Do this because I said so,” than “Do this because ________ (it will help you learn/process content, you will be able to demonstrate what you know, it will help to make your thinking visible…)

While we all have tasks that we are required to do and may not enjoy or see a bigger purpose in doing them, we are more motivated to do the tasks when we understand the reasons behind doing them. We are also motivated to complete tasks when the audience is authentic. Think about the posters hanging in the hallway for all to see, or the presentation done for a live or online audience. What about the blog post that’s read by a global audience or the athletic skill that’s done in front of a crowd.

What happens when the audience is authentic? Is love still visible?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

25 Ways Educators Across the Country are Using Google Hangouts

Yesterday, I blogged about our celebration of Digital Learning Day at Hoover High School and our week of Digital Challenges. We held a day of PD on Google Hangouts and I invited members of my PLN to join us throughout the day to share ideas with us about how to use GHOs at school. Today, I'm sharing those ideas with you.

First, let me share with you who visited us via Google Hangouts. 
Lisa Meade (@LisaMeade23) 
Jennifer Roach (@JennGRoach)   
Kayla Hall (@HallKaylaR ) 
Alicia Dudley (@mrsadudley ) 
Tara Havard (@TaraHavard_ ) 
Vicki Randolph (@VRandolph1 ) 
Jason Markey (@JasonMMarkey) 
Melissa Eddington (@melsa777) 
Kory Graham (@tritonkory) 
Eric Turner (@_ericturner) 
Jonathan Kegler (@JonathanKegler) 
Nathan Barber (@_nathanbarber) 
Reed Gillespie (@rggillespie) 
Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) 
Garnet Hillman (@garnet_hillman) 
Amy Fadeji (@mrsfadeji)
I reached out on Twitter and asked if there was anyone who would like to spend 10-15 minutes with us and share how they were using GHOs. It was especially cool for the two tech guys and me to spend the entire day hosting PD during teachers' off periods. By the end of the day, we had heard from 16 different
educators from all over the country. 

Here are the ways GHOs are being used or have been used by them:

  • Bring in experts, such as Rick Wormeli and Dave Burgess, to "talk" with staff
  • Google Hangout with 5th/6th graders and Kindergarten students, where older students performed science experiment and explained to younger students what they were doing an the scientific principles they were testing
  • Four kindergarten teachers all do lesson planning with each other via GHOs. Instead of doing it at school, they get home, take care of their own families, then collaborate via Google Docs an GHOs. They said it is a huge time-saver!
  • In one school, they use GHOs between classes of the same grade level who perform the same science experiments an compare data
  • Google Hangout with an author
  • Google Hangout parent conference for parents who can't come in for a meeting
  • Weekly PLC meetings between campuses via GHO
  • Use hangouts with classes when a sub is there such as a greeting to start class when you, the teacher, are not there
  • In one school, their Engineering class worked with a class in another state on the same project
  • One high school's student leadership team got to work with members of Google X team via GHOs.
  • One administrator did a GHO with a PE teacher in New Jersey who wanted to get input on a presentation he was working on
  • One administrator used GHO to talk to Jonathan Kegler’s university class
  • One school's librarian reads to students in other schools
  • A Kindergarten teacher connected with a teacher at an alternative school, and his alternative school students in Tennessee have been reading to her Kindergarten students in rural Minnesota
  • When students go on vacation, the student on vacation can share about the location with students who may not ever get the chance to travel there
  • One administrator in a private school has interviewed students for the school via GHO
  • Several administrators have done initial teacher interviews via GHO to save the candidate on airfare
  • GHOs have been used to connect foreign language students in different schools. 
  • Teachers hold office hours online via GHO for students to get extra help
  • Distance learning has been done with other schools via GHO
  • GHOs have been used for meetings for book chats
  • One school does 40-60 per year, including GHOs with authors, athletes, White House, Miss America and Mystery GHOs
  • One school has used GHOs in conjunction with Genius Hour to connect with experts
  • One school uses GHOs with students who are hospitalized
  • Another teacher surveys parents and asks, "Do you have any level of expertise?" Then the teacher sets up GHO with those parents.

Two pieces of advice from the day? 

"Take a risk and try it." 
Our tech guy, Keith Fulmer, told the teachers he gives a 100% guarantee. 
They just need the idea, and he'll make it work.

"Keep it simple"
It doesn't have to be an original or outrageous idea. Reach out and connect you students and/or school to new ideas, people, and opportunities for learning.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Digital Learning Day Turns into Digital Learning Week at Hoover High

This past week, our school celebrated Digital Learning "Week" in honor of Digital Learning Day that was on Friday, March 13. 

On Sunday, I sent out a challenge to our staff

I created a flyer with smore that included all of the details of the challenge (Click the picture to go to the online flyer)


I challenged our teachers and staff to complete 3 of the activities on the flyer, and they would be entered into a drawing for an iTunes or Starbucks giftcard. 

One of our teachers emailed the link to her Pinterest board Sunday night! I was pumped and hoped that this was the start to many teachers participating in the challenge.

On Monday night, Holly Sutherland and I hosted #ALedchat on Twitter, and only 3 Hoover High teachers participated. It was only the first day of the challenge, and it was the week that teachers had grades due so I knew they were busy wrapping up the grading period. 

Tuesday morning, I got this email from a teacher:

I am signed up for Thursday, and I have a Pinterest board called “Learning Lane” with ideas posted for teaching. Planning to do Voxer, but my phone won’t let me add the app for some reason. It’s old. J

I loved getting it, and I was getting excited about our Google Hangouts PD that was planned for Thursday.  

The same teacher let me know that she had set up a class hashtag for her students to tweet about what they were learning while reading Night.

Here's another tweet from one of our teachers:

I had already planned an observation of the co-teacher in that classroom, so the timing was perfect.

Tuesday morning, I also got the following email from another teacher:
Please join us fourth period if you can (C129)—edge of technology (at least for me).
I replied that I would be there and put an appointment on my calendar to visit his classroom fourth period. 

What was exciting about getting this email is that it was from a teacher who is retiring at the end of this year. He could take on the attitude of "I'm leaving in a few months, there's no reason for me to try anything new with my students." What makes this teacher special is that he always keeps the students first, and he knows that the few months he has with them should be about them, not about him.

When I got to his class, his students were learning about the Renaissance. They had done a graphic organizer the previous day, and the day I visited he was having them to work in groups and collaborate via Google Docs to create formal outlines by using the graphic organizer.

Tuesday night, I got the first Vox from one of our teachers. 

Click on the picture to hear the Vox from Mrs. Rosato. I love how she ends the message!

On Wednesday, I received a blog post from Mr. Martin, one of our teachers, to post on our school blog.


Wednesday afternoon, I worked on a "Leaderboard" in Google Sheets for everyone who was participating in the challenge. I needed some way to keep up with everyone so that I could hold the giftcard drawing for everyone who completed the challenge. I emailed the staff that night once I learned how to automatically add up their points across the row.

Creating and sharing this leaderboard was a game-changer. I had teachers stopping me in the hallway, emailing and tweeting. 

Here's what one teacher created during a recent illness he had and couldn't physically be at school:

(Click the picture to play the video)

The highlight of the week was our Google Hangouts PD sessions that our two tech guys/gurus, Keith Fulmer and Jonathan Sandlin, led for us all day on Thursday. 

We offered the sessions all day, and the teachers signed up in advance for one of their off periods via a Google Form. By knowing in advance of the size of the group, what they hoped to get out of the session, and which periods, it helped us plan for the day. Tuesday afternoon, I simply tweeted members of my PLN and asked them if they were available to do a 10-15 minute hangout with our teachers to show the ease and power of a GHO and to share ideas of how their school/district is using GHOs. Within a short time, I had all of the slots filled, which shows how giving the educators on twitter are. Most, if not all, share the philosophy that "we are better together," and we try to help each other out when asked.

We got a lot of great ideas on how to use Google Hangouts (I'll share them in tomorrow's blog post), and we're so thankful to our guests who gave up a up a little of their time to share with us! 

All in all, it was a fun week that challenged us to stretch and grow as teachers and leaders. How did you celebrate Digital Learning Day?

Related posts 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Five Digital Tools for School Leaders

Digital Learning Day is coming up next week, and I'm excited to share 5 digital tools that I use as a school leader. I'm by no means an expert, but I'm very passionate about using technology and about being a connected educator. Feel free to share your ideas & digital tools in the comments!

Twitter and Twitter Chats

Twitter has been the biggest game-changer for me and my journey as a school leader. Connecting to other school leaders, sharing stories, encouraging each other, and getting ideas as well as advice - all via twitter - is very helpful in  professional learning. The people who are on twitter WANT to be there, so the atmosphere is extremely positive and encouraging. (I have heard stories of rare negative experiences or interactions with negative people, but those are very few and far between.) Don't use twitter with your students! 

Twitter chats are another way to build a Personal Learning Network. If you've never participated, find one that you want to join and just "lurk" the first few times. Watch the conversation, then after a few times, join in. Retweet a few tweets and respond to a few tweets during the chat. For most of us, the first step is the hardest, but I promise that 1) it gets easier, 2) it's totally worth it, and 3) the more you contribute the more you will learn. If you need a list of twitter chats, check out Jerry Blumengarten's (@cybraryman1) site:


Voxer is another tool like twitter that contributes to my professional learning. It is an easy way to connect with others by the ability to leave "voice messages" for someone, but more than that you can join a "group chat" where members leave voice messages that can be heard by everyone in the group. (You can also text or drop pictures in the group.) Brad Currie inspired me, and the #satchat Voxer was my first group chat I belonged to. (My New Talk Radio - Voxer). Since then, I have joined other groups and started 2 myself. One is for Women in Education Leadership, and the other is for a book study group (we're reading The Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson.) Being able to hear a person's voice adds another layer of personalization to the conversation. 

Google Hangouts

Yet another way to connect, Google Hangouts (GHOs) are awesome because they can be used for video calls, but they can also be recorded, saved on YouTube, and played by anyone with a link. 

Here are some of the ways I've used Google Hangouts: 
--I was fortunate to be on a panel discussion about blogging with the DC Metro Area Google Educator Group led by Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateecher) via a GHO. (Link to video HERE.) 
--To save time, we held a GHO "conference call" with me, two of our district technology personnel, and an administrator at the other high school in our district to discuss virtual classes 
--Due to conflicts in our schedule, our ninth grade counselor and I were not able to meet in person with the math teachers in one of our middle schools. We met via a GHO and talked about our course selection process and answered questions about some math course changes we are making for next year 
--Last July, we held our quarterly #USedchat on twitter via a Google Hangout. It was a scary and exhilarating experience all at once! (Read my blog post about it HERE.) 
--Last summer, during our district PD days, I was the co-leader for one of the sessions, which was on standards-based grading. For the session, via a Google Hangout, I was able to bring Andrew Maxey and Garnet Hillman "to the table" for the conversation.

Google Drive

I love the motto for Google Drive: "Keep everything. Share anything." Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate. It saves me from those "Reply to All" emails when collaborating with a group. It allows me to work on a document at work and at home. I can share Google Presentations with a link (like this one called Dealing with Distractibility in a 1:1 Classroom). Google Forms allows me to collect information easily, like feedback from our students about their virtual classes we are piloting this year.
I know there's a lot more that I have to learn about Google Drive, but it has been a huge help for my needs so far. 


Remind (formerly Remind 101) is a texting service that can be used to send texts, reminders, and/or messages to students and parents. I set up a remind group for the Class of 2017 last year and also I have a Class of 2018 that was set up for this year's freshmen and their parents. Whenever there is a change in schedule, delayed start, or closed school, I send a text to the group. Also, when there are important dates or deadlines coming up such as turning in course selection sheets, I send reminders to the group. It's a quick and easy way to send out information that parents and students will receive on their cell phones. (They are also able to get messages via email if they choose when signing up.)

These are the top 5 digital tools I use (others include Zite, Picstitch, Notability, Blogger, Vine, and Storify.) I would love to hear if you use any of these or if you have others you use regularly. Comments are always welcomed and appreciated!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Providing More Independence at School with iPads

Sometimes as administrators in a 1:1 school, we tend to see and hear more about the students who are misusing their devices for gaming, socializing, and entertainment. 

Because of this, when Carrie Busby, one of the other administrators at our school, shared the email below, I asked her if I could share it here.

Today I met with a Hoover graduate and his parents for his Summary of Performance exit meeting after completing his diploma requirements, and I heard some interesting feedback on how teachers used technology to help this student.  Part of the interview asks the student to reflect on what helped the student be successful at school, and the mother said she was surprised by how much structure the ipad gave her son.  At first she thought, “What are they doing and why are they giving them these devices?”  It was clear that she thought her son would not do well with the ipad, perhaps because in her words, he was not a regular student.  Then she went into detail about how teachers used Edmodo, online textbooks, etc. to put technological structures in place that made her student become more independent when before she would have to be very involved in his schooling. She said it was a huge benefit that also taught him skills that she sees him use as he navigates the online platform his employer uses. 
This is the kind of feedback that helps us to keep perspective on the advantages that our students have, and opportunities that are created, by what our students and teachers are able to do in a 1:1 school.