“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” —Unknown
Outschool, a marketplace for live online classes K-12, is trying to hire 5000 teachers over the next few weeks to support student learning during this pandemic.
Outschool is offering free classes to families who need them due to school closures and has seen more than 10x the number of families sign up for classes the last few weeks and needs more teachers to keep the learning growing.
Why teach with Outschool?
Impact: In under two weeks, you can be teaching live online classes and helping students and families right now
Flexibility: You set your schedule to times that work for you
Creativity: You teach what you love, the way you believe it should be taught. You pick the subject
Financial Security: You set the prices for your classes and most teachers report earnings of $40 per teaching hour or more. With unusually high demand, classes fill up quickly.
“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’”by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
With COVID-19 causing uncertainty in schools, I started curating resources that I have been seeing that support you and your students. With all the free digital resources, don’t forget about non-technology learning such as books, puzzles, cooking (following a recipe), playing outside, and conversations!
It is also important to recognize that this is an emotional time for everyone and we need to make sure we are thinking about the social and emotional needs for all.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” by Leonardo da Vinci
I love Facebook (FB) groups because you connect with like-minded people who are sharing learnings and ideas that improve your educational craft and practice. Finding FB groups is relatively easy. First type what you are interested in, into your Facebook search bar such as leadership, and then click Groups. A ton of groups will populate, most of the time, groups are closed and you have to send a request to join. Sometimes there is even a “quiz” to make sure people who join the group are there for the right reasons.
Below I have shared my favorite educational FB groups I am apart of. I would love to know which FB groups you love as well; please share in the comments so I can also join those groups too.
LIFTEd: Leadership Insights for Transforming Leaders: LIFTEd is a group for change-makers interested in transforming K-12 education. Along with providing actionable advice and insights, this group is a network for school and district stakeholders that exchange ideas & resources and connect with others in K12 education across the country.
Standard Based Learning and Grading: Traditional grading practices work against the natural learning process. This group is a forum for discussion surrounding the ideals and implementation of Standards Based Learning and Grading.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
This past year, when visiting a school, the leadership team was frustrated with the school culture. They wanted the staff in the building to have more gratitude toward each other. Through some guiding questions and honest discussions I helped them reflect on themselves as leaders to think about what they did for the staff to model their gratitude. They soon realized that they were not doing anything to help build a culture of gratitude, they just wanted it to happen.
Traveling across the country working in all levels from classrooms, to school to district level I often see this. We want (fill in the blank of desire) but we want it to magically happen. The below process has helped educators breakdown their desires and make it into actionable tasks.
For this school we backwards mapped what our desire was for the school; have a culture of gratitude. We then thought about the goal we needed in order to make the desire happen. Then we thought about what habit we needed to create in order to be successful with our goal.
Culture of Gratitude
Write two notes of gratitude
Write notes of gratitude per day when eating breakfast, put them in teachers boxes first thin when I arrive.
It is important to note, a habit is simply a regular tendency, behavior, or practice. Habits are the things we do so often they become second nature. For a habit to take root it needs to be learned, practiced, and used regularly. For this Principal he chose to stack it with a habit he already had, eating breakfast daily.
Three weeks later I received my own note of gratitude from the Principal, “Over the past three weeks, I have written one to four notes each morning and have placed them in boxes when I arrive at school. Usually, by lunch, I have received a thank you from the people I had given them to. They are touched, feel cared for, and can not express enough how the words I shared positively affected them. The whole building has transformed.”
This backward map process can be used to obtain any desire you want for your classroom, school and/or district. The most important piece is making sure you take the time to reflect on what your true desire, goal and habits are. Here are two more examples to see what it looks like at the district and classroom levels:
Increasing student achievement
Use Instructional Framework as anchor in all PD
All professional developments will reference which instructional framework component the pd is connected to.
Students reflect on their learning
At the end of the day, I will give five minutes for students to reflect on their learning for the day.
“Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” By Mattie Stepanek
Traveling across the country and working with districts I get to witness, interact and work with many different teams. I have started noticing a pattern no matter if the districts are large, with many schools, or if it is a district that is small with three schools, the way they work together is all the same.
The Cabinet level has an idea of how to improve X in their district. They inform the central office departments that need to know the information, then the central office tells the principals who inform the school building. This style of delivery chain works in silos yet we know based on Hattie’s work, collective efficacy has the highest effect on student achievement, so why are we still working in silos this way?
I believe that we need to create Professional Learning Teams (PLT) for different topics/initiatives that work together cross-functionally. PLTs would work similarly like PLCs would such as designing together, analyzing data, creating action steps and allowing everyone to have a voice. For example, if a district goal is implementing personalized learning, they should create a PLT of multiple stakeholders and move the work forward together.
By doing this, you break silos, have clearer communication of delivery chains and one person doesn’t own all the content knowledge. Teams continually build trust, learn together and challenge the status quo in order to do what is best for all students.
I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas, add them to the comments.
“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.” By Orhan Pamuk
If you have been reading my blog you know I LOVE to read! If you haven’t been reading my blog, you now know. I like to share the books I read with others because I am a believer in knowledge is power and that we all need to work together. I usually share my book recommendations about three times a year. Here is my Fall edition in no particular order.
This book explains how you can become a Kick-Ass boss to build sound relationships, achieve results, and create a better workplace. This is not a typical education book which is why I like it even better because it has so many great ideas we can apply to education sector.
This book changed my life. I have not only improved my habits but I have been using the formula with educators all over the country to help change classroom habits that we either need to build or change.
Moments shape our lives; this book discusses how we can create impactful moments for others. As educators creating moments for students is a lot of what we do but how can we make these moments more impactful. This book share lots of ideas ands I guarantee will spark some new ideas for you.
Feedback builds personal and professional growth. Feedback is a difficult conversation for both the giver and the receiver. This book discusses the three feedback triggers and the three things you need to give effective feedback.
Learn how to transform existing professional development programs into innovative, empowering learning experiences that meet staff’s real needs and align with school and district priorities. A must read!
This book is about how to influence others by letting them steal from your ideas. In education we need to do a better job of sharing what we know and our work to help others and spark ideas. This book does a great job of sharing how to do this without being a self-promoter. From the author same author of Steal Like an Artist that I have mentioned in previous book recommendations and don’t be surprised to see his third book in the next recommendation list!
“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.” By Li Keqiang
I had a goal that I wanted teachers to see technology tools as not as a another thing but how it could enhance lessons. Previously, I would tell educators that technology was a tool but I realized that wasn’t working. I decide to change my thinking and SHOW them HOW technology could be a tool. This is where my idea for creating a digital learning playground came from. I wanted to share my experience so that other schools or districts could build one too.
Find a space where you could house the technology in a “showroom” type of atmosphere.
We chose to create ours in our Professional Development Center in a classroom.
Create a list of technology tools that you think teachers would like to utilize in the classroom.
We started our list with items we knew some schools already had but did not know what to do with; they had purchased them because they “looked” fun such as Spheros.
Start to contact technology companies to see if they would donate their technology tool to your playground; understanding the return could potentially be that teachers/schools would purchase the technology for their classroom.
Not many technology companies donated but it was a good place to start
As donations came in and while you make purchases, learn how the technology tool works and start to build lesson plans that incorporate standards.
We played with the tools to learn them and then created lesson plans based on NC standards for all different grade levels and subjects.
When educators visit the room allow them to play with the resources and see the lesson plans that connect to the curriculum.
We created a schedule to allow teachers to know the times the room would be open. We also created a professional development around the tools and soon had a smaller digital playground “on the go” (via a bin) so we could recreate the room at different schools when giving PD. We also created guidelines to help educators design their own learning experience when they came to the room.
Tweet out what we you are doing.
Tweeting allowed us to “shout out” the companies that donated along with helping other educators see how the technology tools were being used in classrooms.
Example of products in a Digital Learning Playground, but not limited too:
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” By John C. Maxwell
Choice boards are graphic organizers that comprise of different amounts of squares and each square is an activity based on a standard. Choice Boards enhance student motivation and engagement in the classroom because students are provided with the “choice” of they want to practice a standard. Below are steps for how to create a choice board:
Step 1- Standards: Decide on what standard you want to create the choice board on. Example: 1.OA.1, 5.NF.1 or 7.EE.1
Step 2- Format: Decide what type of choice board you are going to make, ie how many squares are you going to have? One thing to think about is how long do you want this choice board to be for. For example if it is for one week, then I would pick 6 boxes so students can pick one box per day and still have a choice between two tasks on Friday.
Step 3- Tasks: Create a task (per square) that align to the standard. If you have taught this standard before, pull all the tasks you have done for that standard. Review the tasks to make sure that the tasks are both rigorous and relevant. If the tasks are keep them, if they are not, ask yourself; can I tweak the task to make it better? If so, make the tweaks to improve the task and if not throw the task out as there is no need to keep it.
Step 4- Build: Take all the tasks for that one standard you created and add them to the format that you choose.
Here are some examples of standards based choice boards:
“Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.” By Edward de Bono
Playlist versus Pathway, that is the question I get asked most often. The answer it depends on what your students needs are and where educators are in their craft. To make it easier to determine which is right for you, lets define them first.
Playlist is tasks based on a particular standard or unit of progression of standards that are sequential. Students begin the playlists based on need from their pre-assessment data and work at their own pace.
Pathway is when students have choice of what tasks they want to complete based on a particular standard or unit of progression of standards. Students pathways are determined by their pre-assessment data. Students have voice in how they show mastery along with student led conferences before moving onto the next level within the pathway.
The second question I often hear is how do I create a playlist or a pathway. My recommendation is to backwards plan. Start with the end in mind of what mastery looks like for the standard you are creating the playlist or the pathway for. I also suggest pulling all the tasks you have for that standard that you have used in prior years to help create your playlist and/or pathway.
If you have a playlist or pathway you want to share with others, please add it to the comments.