Tag Archives: teacher

Get Your Self-Care Ready for Back to School

The school year is quickly approaching! In the midst of the excitement and enthusiasm of a new bunch of students and trying out new lessons is the knowledge that the school year can very quickly get quite busy and stressful! In addition to planning lessons and assessments, this is a great time of year to give your self-care toolbox a quick look and tweak! Just like planning your work schedule, you need to plan your self-care schedule as well. It’s important to start early so that you can make it a habit before your schedule and the school year takes over your life.

Get Moving!

Exercise is one of the greatest methods of relieving stress and anxiety. This does not mean you need to be dead-lifting 200 pounds or training for a marathon. The best type of exercise is the exercise you will do regularly! Scheduling exercise in your day can be as simple as setting aside 30 minutes for taking a walk around campus to as complex as training for an iron-wo/man triathlon. Try to get in a little bit of exercise every day. If you need some help for motivation, try recruiting a friend or investing in an inexpensive fitness tracker (I wear a Fitbit One that I purchased on eBay).

Explore Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation has been around for a long time but has only recently picked up popularity. While it seems like new-age feel-goodery, the reality is that meditation works. Meditation has been proven to help individuals cope with stress and anxiety, sleep better, and increase resilience. I try to meditate for 10-15 minutes a day (preferably in the morning). If you want some help getting started, check out The New York Time’s article: “How to Meditate.” My favorite tool for meditation is an app called Calmit has several guided meditation options and programs to help you progress and experiment with Mindfulness. Better yet, Calm is free for teachers.

Set up a “Praise Box” or “Praise Wall” for Yourself

I keep a small box of mementos from students – thank you notes, small gifts, etc that remind my why I do what I do. I keep these for those challenging days when the kids drive me up the wall (and they will) or when I feel like the worst teacher in the world. Anytime a student gives you a thank you (sometimes it’s written on a test or a quiz, in a note, or attached at Christmas to a present), be sure to save it and throw it in the box or put it on the wall. This is a great way to give yourself a boost when you need it.

Prioritize Leisure Time

Prepping, grading, and supporting students can take over your life. While none of us got into education for the money or the fame, it’s important to prioritize your life outside of school as well. Schedule time with family or friends (and keep those commitments), schedule an hour for you to read a book that isn’t work related, watch your favorite tv show, and make sure that you get in time for exercise or the gym.

When you’re on an airplane, if you pay attention to the safety instructions (most of us don’t), you are told to put on your oxygen mask first, before you help anyone else. This is because unless you are at your best, you will not be able to help anyone else. The same is true in education. Take care of yourself, prioritize your self-care; you will be a better teacher because of it.

These are the methods that I use to help me stay on track and tackle stress throughout the year. What are yours? Leave them in the comments below!

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How to Empower Your Faculty in a Mobile Learning Environment

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Introducing a new technology into the learning environment can be an intimidating experience, even for seasoned educators. However, with careful and intentional planning on the part of administrators and educational leaders, they can become powerful tools as part of your curriculum and pedagogy. Here are eight ways that administrators and school leaders can empower their faculty to successfully adopt technology in their curriculum.

Is the Technology on Your School or in your School

mobile learning

Greg Kulowiec, in his talks on iPads and other mobile devices, is fond of asking “Is your technology on your classroom or in your classroom?” Using technology because it’s there, or because you’re “expected to” can be a path to failure. Instead, when choosing a tool, be it a device, a software platform, or another instrument, consider your educational philosophy, objectives, and vision. In his article, 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads (and how to Correct Them), Tom Daccord argues that you should explore and examine your curriculum, learning objectives and goals, and pedagogical vision. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting technology at your school in the form of a 1:1 or BYOD; or expanding an existing program, however, don’t just throw technology at existing educational problems. Instead, make meaningful choices.

Reexamine Learning Spaces

A traditional learning environment, with students in rows looking at the teacher, is not an environment conducive for learning with mobile technology. Mobile devices are just that, mobile! Look at restructuring learning spaces to be more conducive to your learning environment. This could include having students work in pods or even taking their classroom outside of the physical building. Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs argues that forward thinking schools are fully redesigning the concept of what a school should “look like.” If you want to see some amazing, innovative architecture look at the cutting edge designs of Fielding Nair International. The Hilbrook School has some great tips on this in “5 Steps Towards an Intentional Learning Space.”

Bring Faculty into the Discussion

All of us in education are advocating for the children. We want our learners to be successful. Teachers are also stakeholders in this experience, in fact, likely the most passionate ones! By bringing them into the decision making and implementation process, you foster their investment, promote buy-in, and can readily address their needs and concerns. Teachers are your greatest allies, use them!

Technology Must be Education Focused

The transition of technology in the classroom has been a rapid one. Many schools are still scrambling to catch up. Because of this, technology often still falls under “Operations” (akin to utilities, car-pools, maintenance, etc) as opposed to “Education.” If you are introducing technology into your curriculum, then youmust ensure that your technology has an educational focus. To this end, it’s important that Educators and Educational Administrators be directly involved in the decision making process for hardware, software, filtering, and more, just as they decide other school supplies like notebooks, textbooks, and pencils.

Professional Development and Mobile Learning

The most important and powerful thing you can do to empower your faculty is to provide them with meaningful, relevant, and dedicated professional development time. In a time when schools are experiencing budget shortfalls, Professional Development budgets are often the first ones slashed. However, remember that when introducing a device into the classroom, even your veteran teachers are back to year one. Their curricular thinking, classroom management, and lesson planning are being entirely restructured and shifted. Professional Development should be tiered and scaled appropriately; do not put AP Science Teachers in curricular training with elementary school science; do not train all teachers with an “introduction to email” course. Instead, professional development should be leveled (Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced), as well as focused on appropriate grades and subject matter. I also encourage you to not add training to already busy schedules. This should be dedicated training time in lieu of other experiences. In addition to in-house opportunities, arrange for funding and provide time off for teachers to attend conferences, participate in webinars, and take classes. While it is great to organize internal opportunities for professional development, look to bring in outside instructors such that you can tap their expertise and let teachers hear from a different voice.

Tap Peer Teachers

One of the best resources that you have are your teachers. Tap your power users and those who have greater social influence in your schools. Even if you make it clear that approaching your Tech Director or Department Chair for assistance is not a “penalty,” it can still be in the back of their minds. A peer is less intimidating. Additionally, they know that their fellow teachers have the same students and work conditions as they do. Their advice and ideas often carry more weight than a Tech Director with decades of experience.

Don’t Lock it Down!

If you allow your teachers to be their best professional selves, to personalize their tools and devices, you give them ownership of the technology in their classrooms. If you send the message: “This item is fragile and dangerous. You can’t be trusted to use it properly, install software, or explore,” then you can’t expect them actively want to use and explore with these devices. I am not saying it should be the wild, wild west. However, set a reasonable use policy and trust your faculty to be their professional selves. By managing their own devices they can explore new tools, become more comfortable, and therefore feel empowered to use it in their classrooms.

Allow Time for Learning and Growth

New devices come with a learning curve. While you can minimize it, there will be some growing pains. Do not make technology adoption a high stakes game for your faculty. Allow for mistakes and failure. One of my favorite podcasts,Freaknomics, posted an episodea few months ago entitled “Failure is Your Friend.” By failing, you take risks, learn, and advance. So don’t just tolerate failure, celebrate it! If you want an innovative environment, then you must celebrate the process of innovation, which includes failure.

Building and fostering an environment where your faculty feels empowered to use mobile devices requires an intentional process on the side of administrators. Respect them as stakeholders, support them professionally, and allow them to explore and take risks. You will be amazed at what they can do!

Looking to learn more? Come join us this summer!

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Tools for Professional Learning: Curate, Share, Connect | Edutopia

For six years, I taught in a basement classroom with no windows, and yet I could see what was happening around the world thanks to the Internet. Though I tried learning something new each day, until I put systems in place, I spent more time searching for materials than actually learning. I realized that to effectively engage in professional learning, I needed tools in place to curate content, save what I found, and connect to other educators.

Read more at Tools for Professional Learning: Curate, Share, Connect | Edutopia.

All You Need to Know About iPads in the Classroom

2398830_origThe next session I am attaching is Kathy Schrock’sAll You Need to Know About iPads in the Classroom.” I’ve been following Kathy for a while so I’m excited to hear what she has been thinking and developing. Kathy begins her discussion by talking about Bloom’s Taxonomy and its modern revision. I especially liked that she connected it back to the SAMR model.

Looking at apps in the Taxonomy of Bloom’s, it’s important to ask pertinent questions about an apps meaning and value. She highlights one of my favorite 1453851_origtools, Evernote as well as apps like Pocket that are great for remembering. Other tools, like Pearltrees, incorporate a social component. Mapping tools like Inspiration and Idea Sketch allow students to map out ideas. Labeling diagrams can be done with tools like Skitch, Notability, or iAnnotate. A great descriptive tool that students can use is ShowMe. For Classifying activities tools like Educreations allows you to create and revise your explanatory tools. In order to Summarize, tools like ScratchWork allows student to graph and explain side by side. For application, students can use tools to execute or implement their learning. They can demonstrate methods, carry out procedures, etc. At the applying level, you can share using tools like Audioboo or ScreenChomp students can demonstrate mastery in various media. You can see many examples of applications that align well with Bloom’s and can be used meaningfully in the classroom on Kathy’s website here. Creativity and thoughtfulness are key to incorporating apps in the classroom. You cannot just add technology and stir…

There are thousands of applications that you can use. Kathy has developed two evaluation forms for selecting apps that you can find on her website.

 

Share My Lesson – a Collaborative Teaching Resource

While visiting ISTE this past July in San Antonio, I was introduced to the website Share My Lesson.

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It’s not only a repository of lesson plans, but a social media site that allows educators to share their own content and then build off the lessons and ideas of others. It is a cooperative space to help teachers around the world build the most dynamic and innovative lessons they can by collaborating with their peers. To learn a little more, check out the video below:

So join up, share with your colleagues, and help to improve education!

The Night Before the First Day of School

1186007_10100384508014834_1282121961_nTomorrow is the first day of school. While the focus of the first day is often on the students, for teachers this is also an exciting time. We have some of the same considerations – what will our classes be like, how will the year progress, will we be successful or struggle… It is always an exciting time.

For me, tomorrow isn’t just the start of the new school year, I am beginning at a fresh school in an untested position. While I have been at Ransom Everglades School as their Director of Educational Technology for “officially” six weeks, I have been working with the faculty for only one and tomorrow I will be meeting the students. I feel like it’s the night before 7th grade all over again!

Today, I went to a local restaurant for breakfast and to work on my syllabus and lesson plans for the week. I felt pretty good when I finished. On the walk home, I got caught in a torrential downpour – the kind that prop up in South Florida without warning. I looked like a drowned-rat. Let’s hope that this is not a foreboding sign of what’s to come… 😉