Category Archives: Professional Development

5 Reasons Why Educators Need to Network


Terms like “networking” are often reserved for the business world. Many educators not only do not proactively network, but they are often discouraged from doing so. However, networking is essential to professional growth and, thus, for educational professionals. While a few teachers and administrators have taken this call and run, especially on platforms such as Twitter, many teachers are still isolated in their classrooms. Here are a few reasons educators should be actively networking:

Classrooms & Schools are Isolating

Schools are busy places and teachers and administrators often become isolated in their schools and classrooms. If you teach five periods, have 1 or 2 preps, and are inundated with paperwork, planning, and students seeking extra help, it can be challenge to meet with other teachers at your school let alone outside of it. Networking can help you keep your finger on the pulse of education as a whole, your subject matter, or your grade-level. It can bring you out of your island into a richer realm of professionals.

Great Professional Development isn’t Always Formal

One of the best benefits for educators is using their network for extended professional development – new trends in practice, a great book, a profound lesson plan, or feedback on a challenge. These are all reasons to tap your broad network of peers.

Education is a Profession Just Like Investment Banking – Treat it Like One

I often get frustrated about the view that education is not so much a profession, but glorified baby sitting. Educators often hold advanced degrees, regularly hone their skills, and are the most “professional” people I know. As such, networking helps to emphasize all of those points. It’s also why I encourage my peers not to keep their networks to others in the field – talk to scientists, lawyers, politicians, economists, and more. We teach future scientists and lawyers, so we should draw from them as well.

Networking can Save you Time

This seems counter-intuitive, but building your network can actually help to save you time. A lot of teachers share out lesson plans, can help you with training, or help you find financial support for professional development or tools for your school. This can save you hours of your own time.

Networking is still key to Career Advancement

Some teachers teach for life, others become administrators or advocates for education. Whatever your career goals, networking is still vital. Perhaps you want to move to a new city or state, your network can help you to find a job. If you are looking to become the next superintendent, your network can help you to advance within your district. The same rules of career advancement in other fields apply to education (See point 3).

Networking is vital for educators to be successful in their field as well as their careers. So get online and join a twitter chat, bring business cards with you to your next conference, or attend a local professional networking event. Get your name and your ideas out there!


The ATLIS Conference Schedule: Making Magic Happen

I am about to begin my second year as an Executive Board member of ATLIS and my third year as an organizational member. I have to say that my time with ATLIS has given me the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with my peers in new and powerful ways. I am so excited for the 2017 ATLIS Conference: Making Magic Happen in Los Angeles. The conference featured speakers Jaime Casap and Tim Fish are sure to inspire and the array of sessions will be amazing. You can view the full schedule here. Here are some highlights of the 2017 Conference:


If you want to attend but still need to register, check out all of the details here.

From Teaching Children to Teaching Adults – Shift your PD Focus

I am an educator in many ways. First, I teach a cabal of sophomores (at Ransom Everglades I teach two courses of United States history). However, I am also a teacher of adults. In my role as Director of Educational Technology and in my work with ISTE and ATLIS, I proselytize, train, and educate.

All of us know (at least intrinsically) that adults and children are very different learners and students; some might argue that adults can be more challenging than children! There is actually a lot of data that highlights how adults differ in learning styles and process. If you want to ensure that your Professional Development sessions are effective, consider doing a little investigation into andragogy (the teaching of adults). I especially liked this infographic:

The Adult Learning Theory Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Take an Online Course from Harvard – For Free!

harvard_wreath_logo_1Harvard University is one of the most distinguished names in education. In addition to its brick and mortar classes, they offer a variety of online courses. In fact, a number of their courses are offered for free! If you would like to stoke your passions for Shakespeare, you can take a course on Hamlet. If you are interested in public health, check out the course on the Opioid Epidemic. There are hundreds of courses to choose from. You can browse and search on their website.

Be S.M.A.R.T. and set Goals for the New Year!

If you want to set some new year’s resolutions, try doing it the SMART way. Write down your goals and tweak them so that they are:

  • Specific: Clear & well-defined.
  • Measureable: Able to determine successful.
  • Agreed Upon: Agreed upon with all stakeholders.
  • Realistic: Within available resources, abilities, and time.
  • Timed-Based: A set deadline.

SMART goals are easier to achieve and measure. Give it a try!

Effective Ways for Educators to Use Twitter

I am a big fan of using Twitter to share, collaborate, and learn. This infographic highlights many ways that educators can use Twitter in their practice.

infographic26 Effective Ways to use Twitter for Teachers and Educators Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Free Meditation & Mindfulness Tool for Teachers

Mindfulness meditation is enjoying a moment in education. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique” and is often paired with meditation practices. Once viewed as a new-age fad, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation have be backed by science, which have found that it helps reduce stress and provides relief for a variety of ailments from insomnia to pain relief. You can find some peer-reviewed studies from the National Institute of Health. Additionally, Harvard recently published findings that brain scans show that the brains of meditators have more gray matter (linked to enhanced senses, increased memory, and executive decision making). 


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

With these findings, it’s no surprise that meditation and mindfulness are enjoying some attention in the education. KQED Mind|Shift has published a series of articles on the benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation practices in schools for both students and teachers. Also, Edutopia has published a series of articles to help introduce these tools in classrooms. Many educators are implementing these exercises to help students manage stress and anxiety, improve memory, and address behavior in their schools.

Several years ago, I came across mindfulness and meditation practices in a few educational conferences. It wasn’t until I had a series of stressful events that I listened to my friend Larry Kahn and decided to give it a try myself. It has now become a regular practice for me and I can attest to its benefits. Recently, I learned that one of my very apps (I am a paid subscriber), Calm, has implemented The Calm Classroom Initiative to help bring meditation and mindfulness to classroom across america.

After you are accepted into the Calm Classroom Initiative, they will send you “tips, suggestions, and best practices to introduce mindfulness to your classroom and get your students excited about meditation.” This is a great way to bring these resources for both you and your students. Please note that Calm has in no way provided me incentives (financial or otherwise) to promote their program. This is a personal attestation to the value of their tool.