Monday, September 5, 2016

It´s a Small World After All...The Benefits of Being A Connected Educator

When my friend introduced me to Twitter several years ago, I had no idea where it would lead me. I had no idea of the people I would meet and how they would contribute to my growth as a learner. 

¨The world is my classroom, each day is a new lesson, and every person I meet is my teacher!"

Truly this quote by Craig Harper embodies what I believe to be true about my experience on social media. An experience that has led me to see that I do not have to do this alone; and that my geographical boundaries cannot and should not stop me from connecting with and learning with educators  who desire to be the best they can be and inspire others to do the same. I now have a growing network of educators from around the world who help me grow and learn. They challenge me and they demand that I give back to the community that has given so much to me and one of the ways I can definitely give back is to invite others to join me on this journey. Thanks Keish for always keeping me abreast.

So what sparked today´s post? The face-to-face meeting of someone from my very own PLN, of course!

I know I have advocated for this before and I know I will continue to advocate for this in the future, but if you are not on social media as an educator, you are truly missing out. You are missing out on the vast number of human talent available to you. You are missing out on a safe place to ask questions, share ideas, take risks and learn from those who are currently walking the path you are on or have been where you are wanting to go.

So where and how do you start?
  1. You start small of course. 
    • Make a decision to join and utilize one social media platform this coming school year.
  2. Decide, before you go live, that this platform will be used solely for professional purposes. 
    • I cannot say this enough, never mix your professional and private life online. Keep them separate and stay protected.
    • I highly recommend Twitter, although Facebook and Voxer are options as well.
  3. Connect, seek out and follow those you already know professionally. 
  4. See who they follow and follow them too.
  5. Find an online EdChat (many are Twitter-based)
    • Check out the following Google doc for EdChats happening around the world.
  6. Pick one that interest you and follow the conversation for the next month or so.
  7. Decide to contribute to the conversation.
  8. Let the magic began.
Until next time...

When and How to Give Teachers Feedback

It has been about two weeks since my last post about spending a majority of my time in the classroom and not in the front office. While this commitment has been realized more this year, than in years past, I still am grappling with how and when to give teachers feedback about their instructional practices. 

I find this especially difficult this year since I am a new admin in a new district where the morale of the staff has gone down significantly since the departure of their former admin. Sensitive to their needs and wanting to start on a positive note, I made high visibility and building relationships a top priority. Even so, I know like anyone else in my position that while this is great, I still am responsible for the quality of education the students in our care receive. I am responsible for ensuring that the teachers standing before them are not only qualified but effective; and if they are not, it is I who decides whether the teacher's ineffectiveness is due to skill or willingness. 

While I don't see many red flags at this time, I do see, after three weeks of classroom walk-throughs, areas that could stand to be improved upon. 

So what is one to do? Especially, when she is faced with doing her job and building up her team at the same time? You "Google it" of course! No, but seriously, I am truly at a loss for what to do or at least begin to move in a direction where teachers can expect to receive specific and objective feedback about their instructional practices. I've been in their classrooms daily and they have not heard a word from me about what I have seen and what I think about what I have seen. I mean yes, I comment on classroom experiences in my weekly staff email, but those are general and always positive in nature. 

I guess, in the end, this post is really just a call for help. Similar in nature to a call for conference proposals, I am seeking the thoughts of both admin and classroom teachers about the type of feedback you'd like to receive and how you would like to receive it. 

Until next time...