Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why Twitter...Expert Access

In our connected society, Twitter is one of those tools that makes entering this connected world so easy. In education, Twitter is a powerful tools for teachers to incorporate into their professional learning and in their classrooms. When I talk to educators about Twitter, one of the ideas I stress is that Twitter allows us access to experts. A recent example from my PLN showcases this access.

While going through my Twitter stream, I came across a tweet highlighting the tweets from Thomas H. Marshburn (@astromarshburn). What i saw was amazing.
Thomas Marshburn is an astronaut who is aboard the International Space Station. As you can see, he is posting pictures of Earth from the space station. With Twitter, you and your students can now have access to an astronaut in space. By simply following him on Twitter, you can see the photos he is sharing and hear about his work on the space station. If my students are studying Earth, space, geography, etc., I think this type of real world access can inspire students, peek their curiousity, and provide a great learning experience. 

You will not find this type of learning in a textbook and it is simply just a few clicks away. Twitter can be a great equalizer with everyone having access to experts. No matter if you are in a small rural school to a large urban one, the opportunity is the same. 

Want more information about using Twitter, check out the videos on my YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Non-Traditional Professional Development in the Digital World

Fair or not, professional development gets a bad name with many teachers. Why is this? One size fits all sessions with little differentiation? Professional development that feels more like a staff meeting? Teacher input not being considered? Whatever the reason, this needs to change. Professional development is more than a summer workshop, a PD day, or an after school session. Professional learning should be continuous with each teacher leading their own professional development. With social media and web 2.0 resources being readily available, this is the time to make the change. This is the time to embrace these new non-traditional professional development resources.

Tomorrow, I will be presenting at the Show Me Professional Development in Columbia, Missouri. It is my goal to share some tools and strategies for using these internet resources for professional development. Everything I am sharing can be found here:

I am looking forward to a great day of learning!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It is OK to Celebrate Your Success

Educators are interesting in so many ways. We give a bit of ourselves to do a great job for our students. We spend countless hours grading, planning, learning, and grading and planning some more. We look out for the welfare of our students when maybe nobody else is. And we do all of this with a humble attitude, never trying to draw attention to ourselves. This needs to change. We need to celebrate our successes and know that it is ok.

Why do teachers shy away from promoting their success? In the quest to create a cohesive team, have we succumb to the idea that every teacher is equal? I find this completely incorrect. Each teacher probably has a unique skill set. Some connect better with hard to reach students. Some excel at integrating technology in the classroom while other may just be better teachers in a particular subject. As teachers, we must realize that it is okay to be better than our teammates in certain areas. On top of that, we need to be able to accept any accolades and recognition without feeling guilty. As I work in classrooms and see an awesome lesson, I always share that with the building administration. The administration needs to know the great things that are happening in their building. Many times the teacher will shy away from this recognition when they should be embracing it with a smile. There is no need to gloat but be proud of what you do well! Your teammates most likely will celebrate that success with you. If someone cannot handle other's success, that is on them. Don't let the fear of upstaging someone keep you from celebrating your success in a respectful way.

Now I must admit, I am in this situation now. I received an award from my school district and I am trying to follow the words just stated above. I was flattered and thankful when I received notice of this honor. Receiving this award would not have been possible without the help of my teammates. They are a great group of people to work with and learn from every day. I know that they play a big role in my success and for that I am truly thankful.

For the past week, I have received emails from the teachers I work with to congratulate me. Rather than shy away, I always respond with a thank you and I express that fact that I am proud of my accomplishment. It does not always feel right but I think it is okay. We should take pride in our accomplishments and not hide from them. This can be done without bragging or gloating. It feels so unnatural, but to feel pride in yourself is uplifting.

So I write this blog post for two reasons.
1. To thank my team for all that they do for me. You guys rock! I cannot think of a better group of people to work with every day.
2. It is okay to be proud of your accomplishments. By being proud, I am not saying that I am better than anyone else. I am just taking pride in my work. Being proud can be done with class, without showing arrogance.

Educators - It is okay to take pride in your work and show it. Be proud of what you do because your work is amazing and touches lives in ways almost no one else can!

Note: It felt weird even writing this blog post but it is out there for the world to see and judge. 

I pose this question to all of you: Do we (teachers) allow ourselves to take pride in our accomplishments? I would love your thoughts as mine seem to be evolving as I write this post.