Why I Am Happy to be a Life-Long Learner

I don't know if I would technically say that I am "behind" in the +TeachThought #ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge or not.  It is Sunday night and I haven't posted since Thursday.  So in this blog I am going to actually answer three prompts together.  As an administrator, the topics don't always strictly apply.  But I think they can all be adapted.  So this is my adaptaion...

Day 12: "How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years."
Day 13: "Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom , and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness."
Day 14: "What is feedback for learning and how well do you give it to students."

My Changing Role

In thinking first about how my role as an administrator and how education will change over the next five years, I keep coming back to the ever-changing role of technology both in and out of the classroom.  As much as I hate to admit it, I think that the evolving opportunities technology is creating will continue to re-define what education looks like.  There are so many ways already that technology allows us to differentiate the learning experience for our students, this will only increase with time.  A few weeks ago I attended #EdCampSFBay and was introduced in one session to what appears to be the next "big" thing: Virtual Reality (VR) headsets.  Currently in beta in the gaming world, one woman shared her ideas of how this technology would translate into the classroom.  #MindBlown!  This served as a reminder that as an administrator and lead learner on my campus, I will need to be aware of new trends to share with teachers, students and parents.  It also reminded me that as long as I am an educator, I can never stop learning.  To be the best educator, I need to be a student as well.  Technology will be the main subject that I will be studying for the fore-seeable future in order to continue to improve my craft and inspire others to do the same.

Awesome Tech

This leads to my current "super star" list of tech tools.  On my campus there are lots of different tools being used.  We encourage teachers to identify what they want to do and then our Ed Tech Specialist matches up their goals with the best tech tool(s) for the job.  Because I am not in the classroom I don't need to use all of the cool apps that are out there anymore (but Turnitin, VoiceThread and Schoology were my main go-tos).  However, as an Administrator I have tasks and goals that I definitely rely on technology to help me achieve.  Now I am much simpler in my approach.  To help streamline my days and my tasks, I rely on GAFE --and I mean EVERYTHING in GAFE from Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms to YouTube, Blogger, Calendar, Tasks, and GHO.  In addition, I have found myself making more screencasts than ever.  I am currently using QuickTime, but hope this year to branch out a bit and try Vimeo or possibly iMovie.  Twitter and the recent addition of Voxer are my favorite PD tools.   The tools I use are effective for me.  They keep me on task and allow me to worry less about the how of a task.  This in turn equates to more time to engage which is always a win in my book.

Providing Feedback

So this brings me to the final topic of the weekend: feedback.  While I am not in the classroom, I am responsible for observing and providing feedback to all of our faculty, counselors, IT staff and librarian.  Whew!  Once again, I rely heavily on technology for the bulk of this task.  The teachers are obviously my biggest "task" list, though I hate to consider it a "task" as observing and coaching are important aspects of my job.  I do walkthroughs as often as possible and am currently using an app for this.  The app allows me to quickly identify what I see in the classroom, write comments and feedback and/or ask questions then send an email to the teacher.  All from the convenience of my iPad.  It also has a running timer so I know how long I have been in the room.  This is great for keeping me moving.  So this is one point of contact for feedback.  However, it is the conversations that are also important and I rely on these as well, especially when there are difficult conversations to be had.  You just can't relegate that to words on a piece of paper or worse, an email.  I will openly admit that I don't give feedback as often as I would like to and I still have trouble with the difficult conversations.  But again, I like my system overall and am grateful that I have a place to start.  I know that my #PLN will share with me their practices and ideas and that in time this system will evolve.  Just as with my overall role and my use of technology, this process will change and improve.

I like knowing that there will always be more to learn.  I am glad that I will never have to worry about being bored at my job.  I think that now is an amazing time to be an educator, in large part because of the limitless opportunities that technology provides for us.


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