Teachers Everywhere

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The other day as I was helping transport twenty students across San Francisco for a field trip via public transit I sat and watched an experienced driver show a new driver the ropes.  “No need to rush.  Safety is always the most important,” he said as we pulled up to a roundabout.  “Which turn do we take from here?” he asked the new driver.

I smiled, thinking about how this man was a teacher and mentor for this new driver.  He was supportive and patient.  He asked questions and held on to answers only for the moments they were truly needed.  It reminded me a lot about how I traditionally think of teaching and learning within a classroom and the walls of school.  I smiled because I love education and it was a simple reminder that eduction is everywhere.  Everyone is part of the education system because we continuously teach one another and learn from one another in a variety of different ways.

That night, I came home to view some snaps from my girlfriend who challenged herself that day by attending an event put on by her school club: the claybusters.  The claybusters are a high-school club that promotes recreational clay shooting (among other things, I’m sure).  I’m always amazed at how open she is to try new things.  She had never done it before and isn’t really a big fan of shooting in general, but she went because she loves her school, her students, and values being part of the community in as many ways as possible.

At the beginning she did not like it.  She had 30 shots and was ready to give up after ten.  When we talked it sounded like she was holding the gun wrong, not hitting any clays, and the overall experience wasn’t a good one.  Then she told me how the instructors were patient with her, but challenged her to keep going.  They taught her how to hold the gun, how to breathe.  Ten more shots and there wasn’t much improvement.  They supported her after every shot, showing her how to tilt her head, how to follow the clay.  The last ten, she hit eight out of ten, and she even said she would be open to shooting again in the future.

The instructors here modeled something that classroom teachers should always strive for: pushing students past what they think they can handle, consistent and unwavering support, and an understanding that students come with different abilities and desires to learn in the first place.

The final example came today in the grocery store as I passed a chatty two year old (I think?) and his father.  The child was asking questions and the dad was very focused on shopping. “Do we need an apple?” said the child.  “That’s a red bell pepper,” the dad replied.  This simple interaction reminded me of the amazing teaching and learning that occurs by parents and their children.  The dad was not focused on teaching in the moment but was a teacher.  How often and what do you and I and the people around us teach each other?

There are a million examples of teaching outside of schools and even outside of traditional structures devoted to teaching and learning.  If you stop and take a look around at an average day, I’m sure you’ll find them too.  If you feel like teaching me about where you see some of this please comment below and let me know what you’ve found!

FREEZE! Improving group work to be challenging and supportive

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If you teach, you’ve seen it.  There are students with high status that tend to dominate group work and feel more confident speaking.  Likewise, there are those students that don’t feel like they have much to offer and often end up with their heads down, off task, or, at best, quietly listening to the conversation.

The goal of group work is an equitable sharing of ideas that allows all students to be challenged and supported.  What I found was missing was an easy way to celebrate students that stepped up to ask a question and admit they were confused or to celebrate students that were empathic and attentive to the needs of struggling students.

The freeze card was an idea stolen from a district PD which was then developed further to aid my specific students.  Below is iteration 3.0.  I began with just FREEZE.  Then, realized that students didn’t know how to have conversations after it had been laid.  Thus, I added some sentence frames to the back of the card.  Bouncing ideas off another colleague we arrive at the current card below.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.57.35 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.57.44 PM

 

It should be noted that this idea was implemented at least six weeks ago and the actual use in class is slow, but consistent framing and celebrations when students lay the card have led to more and more use.  Just today, a student laid the card down and no one in the group stopped to explain.  I took the moment to celebrate the student and said “Nice job!  This student gets 10 points but everyone else in the group loses 2 points because they did not freeze to explain.”  That woke them up and soon they were talking. (it should be noted that points were arbitrary – I had no idea what I meant by that but it got them working!)

What are your thoughts?  What would you change for version 4.0?  What else do you do to encourage equitable conversations and group work?

 

My favorite growth mindset ideas

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I was recently asked by a friend to pass along my favorite growth mindset materials.  His company jumped on the buzzword bandwagon and was spreading the growth mindset message.  He was wondering if I had some other supplemental resources that would be helpful and less focused on the student/ school perspective.

The first to come to mind were these:

1.) Neuroplasticity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g&t=1s

2.) “How Praise Became a Consolation Prize” – A reflection by Dweck about what people have gotten wrong about growth mindset. http://How Praise Became a Consolation Prize

3.) Understanding the Importance of Fixed Mindset – My own thoughts and reflections and anecdote. http://caseyulrich.com/2017/07/understanding-the-importance-of-fixed-mindset/

4.) This photo

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What other resources should be added to this list?

Plan, Do, Study, Act to Improve Classroom Routines

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Recently, my last period class fell into a habit of struggling to get started each day.  One day, when it took the class ten minutes, I was finally fed up with yelling at students to sit down and get started.  Instead, I asked them “how much time do you need to get started?”  We defined “getting started” as sitting down with the opening out, phones put away, and a student leader starting class.

Student proposals ranged from 3 minutes to 10 minutes and we finally settled on the categories of 3, 5, or 7 minutes.  Three students gave their passionate explanations of why 3 or 5 or 7 were the best for the class (I personally was a fan of the 3 minute speech).  I should have known better than to let the 7-minute delegate talk last but, sure enough, the class voted for 7 minutes.  Fine.  At least it’s better than 10 minutes.

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 8.00.58 PM

The first days seemed to go better and they even were able to reach their goal twice.  Then, another bad day set in.  The problem I identified was that the group had set a goal but had not defined any strategies to meet the goal.  What did they need to improve?  Again, after a debate with the class we settled on the following strategies.

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 8.03.12 PM

Since that date the time it has taken to start class has continued to decline.  It began to level off at about four minutes this week which I think is a much more reasonable amount of time and similar to the other classes I have throughout the day.  I am now going to start keeping track of how well students follow through with their strategies and maybe we’ll see it decline even more!  Either way, I’m proud of their improvement!

A Simple Switch Creates Curiosity

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How often have you heard this in a meeting with your department, a parent, or even in your own head:

“Kids are too dependent on calculators!  They can’t do anything in their head any more!

There are countless examples of 17 year old kids not being able to complete simple arithmetic which is distressing, but it is not the argument I am here to make.

Instead, I am concerned the fear of calculator dependence is negatively affecting the way teachers design lessons, structure discussion, and assess their students.  When that fear is in the forefront of our minds, we ask students to put the calculators away.  “We need to understand how to do this by hand before we use the calculators”, you might say.  I ask WHY?

Living in the 21st century, we have technology all around us and if I want to know the answer to something I am going to google it.  If the calculator can do the problem for us, why are we wasting our time?  Maybe you argue you have to understand the process to really get what’s going on.  Okay.  My argument becomes: make a question that demands I understand the process.

I am not arguing that understanding how to complete a problem by hand is a bad thing; instead, I’m arguing it’s a great thing!  But we need to make students feel the need to understand.  We need to show that the calculator can calculate, but only humans can think, dig deep, and discover connections.  We need to design problems where the calculator can’t solve it in one step or at all so it once again becomes a tool in the learning process rather than the process itself.


 

To make my point, I will use the example of a lesson devoted to adding and multiplying 2×2 matrices.

Method 1

  • Give students an example of two matrices adding together, then work on the problem with them and show them how it is done.  Leave time for questions.  Then give them a few problems to try before moving on.  Pause for questions.
  • Now give students an example of two matrices multiplying together.  Don’t forget to warn them that this one is tricky!  Then, go through the process with them and take questions.  Then give them a few problems to try and walk around to help answer questions.
  • Two days later, show them how to complete it on the calculator.

Method 2

  • Show students how to add two matrices together using the calculator.  Have them figure out the pattern. Takes about 1 minute.
  • Show students how to multiply two matrices together using the calculator.  Have them figure out the pattern.  Takes very long.  Eventually after giving some hints and gentle nudging, students (maybe not all of them) figure out the pattern and share it.  Without discussing right or wrong, put up examples for students to try by hand and then check them with the calculators.

 

An amazing thing happens in method 2.  Students begin to view the challenge as a puzzle to figure out rather than an “enter” button to be pressed for an answer.  If you pause long enough after kids first type the multiplication into the calculator someone will ask, “why does that work?”. THAT’S LIKE NEVER ASKED!! YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY?!?  It’s a cool feeling.

Even though we allowed the students an opportunity to struggle, we have to wonder what motivation students have to remember the meaning of a topic and how to complete it by hand.  Why can’t they just go back to using their calculator?  The truth is, they can….if you design problems with simple answers. (Assume these are 2 x 2 matrices below being multiplied)

Easy With Calculator

[  1    2 ]      [ -2   4 ]
[  7   -4 ]      [  0   8 ]         =     ?

Not Easy With Calculator

[ 2     4]       [3      x]                [4      12]
[ 1     1]       [-1    6]        =       [14    9 ]

 

A slight change in thinking renders the calculator powerless or, at most, a guess and check monster that drags out the process.  Instead of fearing the power of a calculator, we need to make kids jealous of the power it has and push them to ask why and how it works!  If we can do that, while creating challenging questions that force students to think deeply, we won’t have to let the fear of calculators cloud our judgement.  A simple switch can lead to more curiosity, discovery, and understanding for students.

The Struggle of Letting Them Struggle

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Today I was teaching an honors level class how to add and subtract rational expressions.  These are the students that have pushed themselves to take Algebra 2 over the summer to advance their potential opportunities as they become upperclassmen.  We’re talking serious students.

To begin the unit, I modeled my teaching after a Dan Meyer inspired idea and, although, not the most exciting thing, it helped students gain a little buy-in.  The previous day we had actually looked at adding fractions, discussed the similarities and differences of adding rational numbers and made significant progress.  So I thought.

We started today by checking over the homework and there were a lot of questions.  THERE SHOULD BE  A LOT OF QUESTIONS.  This is hard stuff and I was fortunate to have curious students, anxious to learn the content at a deep level and ask about their confusion.  If there aren’t any questions after the first day please don’t assume they’re good.  In fact, I could sense the frustration and kept telling them:

This is hard, but that’s why it’s better than many of the other things we look at.  It’s a chance for you to struggle and flex your creativity in solving problems.  Keep trying, keep failing, and keep asking questions.

Instead of moving on, I asked them if they would prefer to practice this a little more; they said yes.  I started by giving them a more simple problem.  Then, I increased the level of difficulty, and finally, gave them this harder problem:

__5__  +         4         –      2  
x(x+2)         -x – 2             5x

The students were able to handle the first two problems fairly well with asking only a few questions.  The final question pushed many of them outside of their comfort zone.  I let the students begin on their own, then as they began to ask questions I went in to help clarify some confusion.  But….it was rough.  I’m talking seriously rough.  Like, why would you do that, how can you even think that after the other things we looked at rough.

What I found myself doing as they asked me questions was becoming overwhelmed.  Student after student asked me questions, and I was having the most difficult time thinking about how to steer them in the right direction without showing them exactly how to do it.  At one point, I told a student:

Just hang on for a minute; I’m going to go through it with the class in a little bit.

It was at this point I realized the struggle of letting kids struggle.  Learning is messy, but when we have a quality problem of difficulty and students ambitious enough to struggle through it, we must ask ourselves whether we are ambitious enough to help them through the struggle rather than re-gain control and show them how it is done step-by-step.

As teachers, we need ways to encourage kids to take risks, while demonstrating that it is okay to do so.  We need to allow kids to make mistakes and fail, but we cannot be there to catch them as soon as it gets a little difficult.  Instead, we need to foster a classroom where creativity is encouraged and wrong answers are explored and shared.  In that moment, I wonder how the learning in my classroom would have changed if I grabbed three students’ notebooks, threw them under the document camera and, as a class, we discussed the math (wrong or right) that the student displayed.

I, like many other teachers, get caught up on the right answer rather than the process of getting there.  Because of this, I get frustrated when students are nowhere near the correct answer.  Instead, we need to embrace the messy process and the learning that is held within.  Maybe the student that struggled and got a problem wrong three times actually ends up learning and understanding the process at a deeper level than the student that got it right on the first attempt.

I ask you to be careful next time you get frustrated because no one in your class is finding the right answer.  Use the opportunity to talk about mistakes and continue to give them chances to flex their creativity and make mistakes.  It’s a struggle.

Not Tech-Savvy? Be Tech-Curious.

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The year was 2006.  I was voted most tech-savvy among my friends on Myspace.  To that point in my life, I had mastered the portable CD player and creating a Green Bay Packers themed MySpace page.  I borrowed cell phones to call people and used Ask Jeeves past the point a person probably should have.  I don’t think “tech-savvy” was the correct phrase to describe me.

Fast forward six years to December 2012, my first year of teaching, when I purchased my first smart phone.  A co-worker and I both had new smart phones and we were excited to try these “apps” we heard so much about.  “You should check out this app called Snapchat.  All the kids are using it and it’s kind of fun!”.  Sure enough, it’s awesome, and over the past two years I have developed a lesson for students to learn about similar triangles through the use of Snapchat.

Somewhere around the same time, I began using this thing called Twitter.  You may have heard of it.  My college roommate’s pet tortoise had an account and tweeted about eating lettuce, and my friends used it to share tidbits of our 2012 roadtrip.  Little did I know four short years later I would be using it nearly every day to connect, share, and discover innovative ideas centered around education.  Something happened in the years from 2012 to 2016, and it was great.

I share these stories to show that I really started out on the other end of the “tech-savvy” spectrum.  I grew up with a computer, yes, but compared to my peers, I always seemed to lag a few years behind.  Although I would say I was not very tech-savvy when I entered teaching, I would argue that I quickly became “tech-curious“.  This has led to amazing growth for me as an educator and as a leader.

Being “tech-curious” is an old way of thinking wrapped with a 21st look.  Being tech-curious means that you are realistic about the world in which we live and are determined to find the best ways for students to learn and for peers to improve.

Long before the modern era of iPads, Chromebooks, Smartboards, and apps the best teachers still understood their students.  They understood pop-culture, they understood the most popular styles, and they understood the pulse of each generation; they understood what made their students tick.  Today is no different.  A teacher today understands that smart phones and other technology are part of our students’ lives, and it is our job to find a way meaningful way to bring it into our curriculum, pedagogy, and reflective practices.

I believe being tech-curious is important because using technology effectively offers students more opportunities to collaborate, publish their work, and personalize their learning.  If you are a new teacher or experienced, tech-savvy or not, you have the opportunity to say “YES!” to being tech-curious.”  The change is not instantaneous but curiosity begins to drive who you are as an educator, and you will constantly find yourself tweaking, refining, and asking “is there a better way?”.

Once again, I am labeled one of the “tech-savvy” teachers at my school.  This surely has more value than my 2006 Myspace page, yet I still don’t really feel I have earned the title.  “Savvy” really makes it sound like I have a clue what I’m doing.  Perhaps a title more fitting would be “Likely to try new technology tools, probably screw up, share successes and failures and then annoy people with reminders to tweet their work as well”.

Kind of long winded…perhaps I’ll just go with the title – tech-curious.

My Journey With Growth Mindset

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Past

If you’re like me, you enjoy teaching, and you enjoy finding cool new ways to help kids learn. Specifically, I teach math.  Learning math can be a struggle.  I know that teaching it is!

In my experience teaching, I have tried new tricks, I have tried to make math more engaging, and in my student teaching days I even rapped about it (probably something I should bring back).  With all of these attempts I still found that my students that “cared” worked hard and found success, and those that “didn’t care” struggled to learn or be engaged at any time.

Along comes growth mindset – a new idea.  I like new ideas.  I burn through more of them than the average person, but I find triumph in trying something that most people haven’t – even if the idea crashes and burns.  And trust me, they’ve burned.

I began my experience learning about growth mindset in a free online course I took through Stanford one summer, How to Learn Math.  In the course they presented math as the meaningful connection of ideas and conjectures, and it emphasized the importance of students modeling and sharing their experiences with these ideas.  Most importantly, it emphasized the importance of failure and the importance of making (and sharing) mistakes.

In the course, I was introduced to Carol Dweck and her work with growth mindset.  I was intrigued by her research, and the following year, I began to use the language in my classroom.  I embraced the mistakes that students made and tried my best to use language that would help foster a growth mindset.  Half way through the year I started to question whether this new idea was all it was cracked up to be.  I found myself saying, “Is anyone even listening?”  I still had those go-getters that were finding success, and I still had those strugglers having difficulty.  Perhaps this was yet another crash and burn, which is pretty standard in room 253.

And then, this happened.

A student sketch of me talking growth mindset.

A student sketch of me talking growth mindset.

It was not uncommon for student to make sketches of me.  In fact, I recall one class period where a student drew normal Ulrich, skinny faced Ulrich, fat faced Ulrich, monkey Ulrich, and even Ulrich as a banana.  I know, I’m inspirational.

What was different about this was what the student quoted me saying.  When this student decided to draw a picture of me, rather than saying something mathy, I was encouraging students to work hard and stretch their brains.  I got one of those warm fuzzy feelings.  They’re listening!  This growth mindset thing actually gets through those ears!  On a side note, this class also liked to yell “SHAME!” every time I made a mistake on an answer key or in the notes and that also appeared in the drawing. We’re working on that…

Present

To start this school year, I decided to focus on developing growth mindset in my students early and never let them forget it.  We worked more as a group and I emphasized the importance of collaboration and using each other to find mistakes.  As the year progressed I found myself saying a lot of the same lines to encourage students to change their mindset.  Here are a few:

Worse case scenario you get it wrong and learn something”
         – I use this when students are reluctant to share their work.

That is the PERFECT wrong answer.  Thank you.
         – I think it is important to be as excited about incorrect answers as the correct one.

“Awesome!  Guys, let’s check out this mistake.”
         – I like finding mistakes and then sharing it with the class.  It goes a long way to make people comfortable with making mistakes.  As an added bonus, learning occurs!

“How are you supposed to stretch your brain if everything is easy?”
-This is a good response when students are complaining that something is too difficult.

“I made it difficult so that you can actually learn something”
        -Even the brightest students with a fixed mindset can be annoyed by challenges.  As teachers we want to push students and this phrase I’ve use a lot with honors students.


Growth Mindset In Action
im so sick of school

Let me tell you about a recent situation I encountered.  I have an honors geometry student that is just the best.  She works hard, asks questions, comes in outside of class when extra help is needed, and truly cares about understanding math.  You might even say she has a growth mindset, and yet, last week math class made her utter, “I’m so sick of school”.

What did it take?  She earned a B- on a test with a few essential skills also incomplete.  She worked really hard to prepare for the test and still came up with less than she hoped.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard the phrase, and I know it won’t be the last.  What would be your response?

“Keep working hard!  You’ll do better next time!”

“Earning a B- is not bad!  That’s still a really good grade!”

“You get an A for effort in my book.”

The problem I have with each of these approaches is that it brushes off the learning that actually occurred.  This student worked really hard and, yes, she came up short, but why not focus on what she did learn?  Here was my approach as soon as she said, “I’m so sick of school”.

lets find your mistakes

Response #1: Let’s find your mistakes.

I took the time to look over her test with her.  What we found was that she was very skilled in visualization and breaking down shapes into more manageable pieces.  She was persistent in solving difficult problems and took many approaches in order to find the solution.

On the contrary, her struggles were very small.  She forgot to use pi in a few problems and read too quickly, misreading the numbers given.  Her struggles and stressful B- assessment came down to a few silly errors.

Response #2: Look at all you learned.  You didn’t know how to do any of this two weeks ago!

Taking the time to point out all of the concepts she understood took 90 seconds out of my day, but did a world to show this student that her hard work did, in fact, pay off.

Future

Recently I read an article shared by a colleague, and it rewired the way I think about growth mindset.

 “It seems the growth mindset has run amok. Kids are being offered empty praise for just trying. Effort itself has become praise-worthy without the goal it was meant to unleash: learning.”

The article challenges the average proponent of growth mindset, forcing them to rethink the way in which growth mindset manifests itself in the language, curriculum, and assessments of their class.  After reading it, I boiled implementing growth mindset into these four questions:

1. What specific language do you use to encourage growth mindset?
-Do you value mistakes?
-Do you value struggle over speed?
-Share your growth mindset language with the hashtag #growthlanguage

2. How do we model the process for students?
-If we ask students to embrace mistake and overcome struggles we should probably being doing it too.  What does that look like in your classroom?

3. How do we create a system that allows for a growth mindset?
    -How can we value mistakes and struggle if we don’t give students a chance to fix them and learn form them?
-Telling kids they can succeed but not giving them the support or tools to get there is something we probably do but need to change.

4. How can you demonstrate to students they are learning and growing?
    – Think about the student that says, “I hate school.”  How can you show them that all of the work they are doing is paying off?  I’m not talking about the gradebook or even pre-test/ post test.  How can we connect their struggles and effort to their success, however small it may be?

 

These are the questions I hope to answer moving forward.  Being mindful of them and working toward progress is where I’m at now.  I’m sure crashing and burning is still in my future, and, yes, I still will have some students that care and some that don’t, but I’ve noticed an overall change in my kids.  They’re growing; they’re working hard and persisting through struggles more than they did at the start of the year.  I’ll count that as a win.

Rewiring the Teacher Brain for Growth Mindset

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Teaching growth mindset is not as much “showing students how” as it is a “changing the way we talk about what we already do”.  If we are able to talk about learning differently, it becomes embedded in daily routines.  Here are a few subtle changes I made to my syllabus this year.

Old syllabus

EXTRA HELP:

Get it when you need it!!   After school!  Before school!  During class work time!  From your friends!  From me!  From other teachers!  From parents!  From older siblings!  From a tutor!  From the internet! From Khan Academy! The possibilities are endless – YOU just need to make the effort.  Just like life, math doesn’t come easy for most of us – you have to work at it!

New syllabus

GROWTH MINDSET:

Work hard and ask for help when you need it. After school or before school! During class work time! Browse the internet! The possibilities are endless – YOU just need to make the effort. Just like life, math doesn’t come easy for most of us – math is not about speed, it is about the struggle!

As you can notice, very little changed.  Instead of implying getting help is an extra part of learning (making kids feel dumb if they need to get help), I express that hard work is part of the learning process and that asking for help is the norm.  I like how the original paragraph emphasizes effort, but I tried to take it further by emphasizing that struggling is okay.  If students are content with solving problems quickly we are robbing them of real learning.

I challenge you to choose your words carefully when creating documents and especially as you are talking with students.  It is not easy at first, but soon enough it becomes a normal way to talk about learning.

Creating a District Culture of Sharing

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Teachers are awesome people.

They care about kids.  They force students to challenge themselves.  They make learners question the world around them, and when needed, they listen.  Yes, I am a teacher, but the stories from other educators are what inspire me.

There is one weakness of teachers that I would like to point out but hope to improve: sharing.  For all of the awesome things that teachers do in the classroom we are afraid to have someone else look at our work as if somehow the miracles we perform on a daily basis aren’t up to someone else’s standards.

Here are three ways I plan on trying to start building a culture of sharing.


1. Make time to watch other teachers teach.

How?

I’ve been saying that I want to this for years now, but this year I’m going to make it happen.  It is easy to make excuses.

-I’m a young teacher; I don’t have time for it.
-My curriculum changed; I don’t have time for it.
-I’ve got parents to contact and I’m behind in grades; I don’t have time for it.
-…you get the picture.

We make so many excuses that we don’t have time…and I get it, I make those same excuses.  So here’s what I’m going to do (hopefully blogging this will help hold me accountable):

Make a list of people that I would like to see teach.  Ask them if I could come watch them teach. Schedule a specific day and time to watch them teach and add it to my calendar.  Things come up, yes, but reschedule and make it happen.  Think of it as a meeting, but this meeting you will actually grow as an educator.

Why?

I will get a better understanding of what my students go through in an average school day.  I will be able to see how other teachers question students, encourage students, and hold them accountable for their learning.  To think that I know all there is about teaching or that my way is the best is simply foolish.  How can I grow unless I am introduced to what else is out there?

I can create a better relationship with my peers.  If they are comfortable with talking about it, I can ask them their rationale behind decisions.  Did you notice you did this?  Why did you make that decision?  It creates an opportunity for educators to be reflective while having a meaningful conversation about improving learning for students.


2. Create a hashtag your district can use to collaborate and share resources or ideas.

twitter

George Couros is a boss educator, and I had the pleasure of listening to him speak at ISTE 2015. One of the many moving quotes was simple:

“Isolation is now a choice educators make”

Often we as teachers hide away in classrooms, overwhelmed with the tasks that lay before us, but twitter presents a new form of learning, connecting, and growing as professional educators.

How?

I plan on writing a more detailed layout of how this has worked in my district, but here’s the general roll out of what I have done in regards to creating a district hashtag.

1. Find a hashtag that is short and not already used by others.

2. Find other innovators and tell them about your idea.  Keep this group very small for the first few weeks to generate content and help determine what type of content will be shared.

3. After three to four weeks try to expand your group to other early innovators.

4. Try to get administration on board – show them or, even better, have them try it!

5. Ask to share the idea with the rest of the staff.  Take time during the next staff meeting to share your thoughts.

6. See if you can lead training sessions for interested staff members.

Why?

In this day and age we have access to all of the info in the world, but more importantly, we have access to one another (another Couros quote).  In the crazy routine of teaching there are days we do not have a moment to eat lunch or even go to the bathroom.  Getting out of our room to have a conversation seems daunting, but taking a minute to tweet one awesome thing that happened each day allows us as educators to connect, have conversations, and share learning at pace that matches our lifestyle.



3. Create a Tagboard to share experiences in the classroom, at sporting events, and in the community.

vision

Districts are made up of much more than teachers.  To fully create a culture of sharing, students, parents, administrators, coaches, and community members also need to be a part of the process. Many of these members are already producing content whether it is on facebook, twitter, or instagram. Tagboard allows all of these mediums to be collected and shared in one place.

                                                How It Works

Anytime someone uses a hashtag on facebook, twitter, or instagram it is displayed on a tagboard devoted to that tag.  For example, check out the tagboard for #badgers.  As you scroll, you can see that most of the content came from twitter and instagram, but there are occasional facebook posts that appear as well.  All that is needed is a simple tag you can use for your community and spread the word to start sharing.

                                   Why?

Taken from https://ggulibrary.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/featured-database-statista/

Facebook, twitter, and instagram all tend to be favored by different demographics.  From my experience, many parents have and use facebook.  They love to post pictures of their daughter/ son’s sporting events or club outings.  Some parents, teachers, and students prefer to use twitter to share experiences.  For me, it is the preferred method to share content.  Lastly, the preferred form of social media among students is instagram.  They already throw a million hashtags on their pictures; why not add one more that will share a classroom experience/ basketball game/ musical/ band performance/you-name-it with others excited to be part of the community?  Could you imagine a district where student learning and success was displayed openly and everyone was welcome to be part of that community?


I plan on writing more about my experiences as the next school year begins, but I challenge you to find ways to expand your comfort zone and push others around you to share more of what you do on a daily basis.  Teachers are awesome people – its time to show off.  Own your greatness; everyone loves learning.