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Showing posts from 2013

Connected Educator Month: Find Your Voice

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October 2013 was Connected Educator Month.  Twitter Chats referenced it, the hashtag #ce13 was popular, people reflected on the idea of being a connected educator, and @arneduncan even moderated a chat for #edtechchat at the end of the month!  The official website: http://connectededucators.org/ was, and is, full of lots of information to help anyone become a more connected educator.  Questions such as: "How do you stay connected", " Why is it important to be a connected educator", and "What does it mean to be a connected educator" were discussed throughout the month.  Though I very much enjoy participating in Twitter chats and have come to greatly value the PLN that I have created, I must be honest: it wasn't until the end of October that I began to truly reflect on this phenomenon of Connected Educator Month.  So with the turn of the calendar page to a new month, I felt it appropriate to pause and consider what #ce13 has meant and will continue to …

Have it Your Way...Personalizing Professional Development

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This week we had our first "official"--as in calendared so you MUST participate--Professional Development opportunity.  Let me first clarify that the calendar was something I inherited and the system of scheduling PD is, as I am aware, starting to go the way of VHS tapes.  Be that as it may, the day was on the calendar so I had to do something.  Oh.  I have to plan an afternoon (only 2 hours were officially designated for PD as the morning was dedicated to National Testing Day) that is meaningful and valued by all departments?  Really?  O.K.  Time to implement some of those "Best Practices" that I have been hearing about and talking about with my Twitter PLN.  This blog is my chance to reflect on how the day was organized and start to plan for any changes that should be implemented before our next PD day (that one is in the Spring).

Step 1: Information Gathering  My thoughts, very early on, were that 2 hours were in no way sufficient to bring in some outstanding pre…

It's Not Your Parent's Classroom Anymore

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There has been a lot of chatter lately in the Twittersphere and at conferences about two ideas that seem to be slowly gaining traction in education:  1. Project Based Learning (PBL)--and you might as well include 20% Time in that conversation, and  2. the notion of schools being THE best place to allow our students to fail.   I have been ruminating on both of these concepts a lot the past few months.  In this post I am going to attempt to tackle both succinctly and intelligently
Let's start with the first one: PBL/20% Time.  finally came to the realization that this is the way to approach learning at all grades.  And it only took my 7 year old and a talking bus to help me realize this.  After all, I'm a history teacher by trade so how exactly does one teach the French Revolution or the writing of the U.S. Constitution or the origins of civilization or the causes of WWI as a project?  I know that all you PBL evangelists are moaning at the notion that it has taken me so long to…

The End of the One-Room Schoolhouse

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I was reminded that good coaching is not about dynamic coaches serving as heroic educators, but rather stems from the simple habits of connecting teachers to resources and asking them reflective questions.  ~Shane Safire  July, 2008

This week has consisted of a lot of coaching.  I know that last week I reflected on coaching.  However, I think our Monday #edleadchat topic on coaching and observing kept this topic in the forefront of my mind.  That coupled with a number of issues on campus related to new teachers seems to have forced my hand to circle back to this topic once again.

I was not able to observe as many classrooms as I would have liked this week.  But the ones I did get into provided a real range of experiences and helped me to really think about the reflective process.  I realized that it isn't enough to observe a classroom and pen a few notes of gratitude and "way to go-s" for each teacher.  There were some real opportunities for growth in most of the classes I…

Benchwarmers Don't Win the Game

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This week I feel as though I began my real work: observing and coaching.  It was a great experience and I referred to it as my "play time" rather than walkthrough time.  Why?  Because in just 4 days it has become my favorite part of my day.  I was in 20 different rooms this week.  I saw different subjects, different methodologies, different grade levels.  It was so exciting!  The benefits I found this week include:



no "canned" lessons because I just showed up in peoples rooms rather than scheduling a formal visitI would spend only about 10 minutes in each room so I was able to see so much more teaching and learning in a short period of timethe students were only too happy to fill me in if I had questionsbecause it was more informal, I felt as though I was really seeing the "true" nature of the teacher at workI was able to provide timely feedback via email and this (and here is the truly awesome part) led to conversations between colleagues and between me a…

Finding Simplicity...

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As I reflect on the arrival of another Friday, I am amazed at the "normalcy" of this new job.  Let me explain...

Months ago when my promotion was announced, I received a lot of congratulatory messages.  I also received a lot of advice about how this job was going to be tough but that I could handle it. During the summer, I began to wonder on both accounts...you already know that I spent days purging the office that I was moving into.  As I embarked on that process, I found that I was getting rid of items I had no idea were attached to my office and job responsibilities!  Hmmm, COULD I handle this job?  If all these "extras" were part of the title, the the toughest hurdle for me would be the time management needed to address the endless minutiae.

Fast-forward to the end of this week.  Week 3 of school for us.  I have had numerous faculty and parents compliment me on the job that I am doing and that has given me pause.  Because to be honest, I don't feel that I h…

Only 35 More Fridays to Go...

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So make the most of this and every Friday!

That was how I started my email to the faculty for today.  As the first week of school draws to a close I learned two very important lessons (IMO):

1. There is more in my "to learn" bucket right now than there is in my "I know this!" bucket  and

2. What I know doesn't matter so much as how I handle what comes across my desk

My second point is going to be critical as the "I'm new to this office" excuse will only last for so long.  In the mean time, I feel I worked hard to set a great tone with faculty, staff, parents and students this week.  I was out of my office more than I was in it.  I was in classrooms, directing students, answering questions for parents, solving problems, sharing ideas, listening to concerns.

There were questions asked for which I honestly had no answer.  I had to say so.  That is pretty humbling.  But no one seemed to mind.  Perhaps because I was honest?  Perhaps because it was a …

Swimming in the Deep End

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The school year begins in about 3 weeks for us.  I have spent the summer supposedly preparing myself for this new position: Associate Principal.  I dutifully vacated my old post of Social Sciences Chair and attempted to leave the department and its offices more organized and user friendly than when I arrived--the old adage of: "Leave the World a Better Place Than When You Found it" was my mantra as I sifted through literally decades of old text books and files.  I then began to make my new office my "home". Again I sifted through decades of books and files.  At times I wondered if I was making the right decisions.  After all, I've never done this job before so who am I to decide what stays and what goes? Slowly I gained confidence and books from the 1980s and 1990s on teaching methodologies were sent to the recycler, files were digitized, file cabinets removed.  I'm not finished yet (10 boxes and counting still to review) but I feel much better about my &qu…
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Welcome to my blog!  It actually began as an assignment during a CUERockstar camp (I love tech so watch for it popping up here).  However, after some thought, it actually seemed like it could be more than "just another assignment" and here's why...

This is my first year in Administration after 15 years of teaching high school history.  Experience has taught me that the first year of anything is nothing if not an adventure.  Now, those of you who are more seasoned might be saying: "I do not think that word means what you think it means" or "Ha!  That's an understatement!".  My hope is that through my blog, even if no one reads it, I will have the opportunity to reflect on my new position, with all of the ups and downs, and come out on the other end still smiling and looking forward to another year and more adventures.  So thanks for popping in on my journey.  Feel free to leave comments and share your wisdom, your fears, your experiences.  Perhaps…