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ISTE Bound!

Wowowowowowowow.

After years of asking, the planets have finally aligned and I am headed to ISTE this month!!! I am positively GIDDY. The technology grant our school received not only covers the conference, but also allows me to register for some paid workshops. SO COOL! On top of this, I’m hoping to catch up with some of my Twitter colleagues, whom I’ve only known virtually for years now. My husband refers to them as my imaginary friends, so I’ll have to be sure to take pictures!! 😉 I’m following #ISTE2015 on Twitter, and am excited to hopefully meet some of the educational leaders I’ve admired from afar for many years.

Now the overwhelming part… I’ve been searching the sessions (SO MANY), and trying to determine how best to use my time. I went to FETC last year, so I feel I’ve dipped my toe into the “mega-conference” waters. But ISTE… Wow.

So I have been reading “ISTE Tips” and other posts, trying to make sure I don’t miss anything. (Who knew EdTech Karaoke was a thing?!?)

Here’s the few things I’ve learned – If you’ve got other tips for me, please leave them in the comments below – I need them! Hope to see you there!

1. Read the information at the conference website – as much of it as you can. Learn how to click the star in the circle near the session title and “favorite” the sessions you are interested in. When you go to your dashboard, you can look at and print your favorites. Know that some sessions (like the BYOD ones) don’t cost extra, but have limited space, so be sure to register for them early!

2. Follow the Twitter hashtag #ISTE2015, find ISTE on Facebook – Gather as much information as possible! That’s how I learned about “Slice of ISTE“, a cool way that educators are giving back and helping to feed the homeless of Philadelphia.

3. CONNECT – ENGAGE. That’s what this is about! Join the conversation and get prepared before the conference. Make a name tag with your Twitter handle. Sign up to attend evening events. Plan to share by tweeting and blogging about the conference. Make the most of your experience!

 

Virtual Classroom Visits – A Great Opportunity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night I took part in something both powerful and exciting… A Virtual Classroom Visit. I had received an email from Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) co-founder, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, asking me if I would be interested in being one of three “peeks” into classrooms implementing TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). If interested, I would have to videotape a TPACK lesson in my classroom, upload it to YouTube, and write a description of the content, pedagogy, technology, and how inquiry was embraced in my classroom. PLP would post the video online, and I would respond to any comments or questions for a week. Then I would participate in a 30-minute webinar in Blackboard Collaborate where folks could come discuss the lesson with me and ask questions.

I was truly humbled by the request to be one of these three Virtual Classroom Visits, and yet I was a bit nervous airing a video of a lesson and opening it up to feedback from both strangers and people I have a great deal of respect for! Despite my anxieties, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share what I have been working on since I completed PLP’s Connected Learner Experience professional development program two years ago – integrating technology in a way that cultivates connected learning in my classroom, and focuses on student-driven learning and inquiry. I chose a Mystery Skype session, and quickly set up a Skype call and recruited a videographer.

My Lesson

Briefly, Mystery Skype is a fun activity that supports our study of states and regions in 4th grade. Students receive a Mystery Skype call and use yes or no geography questions to determine the location of the other class. Students are in teams with different roles, and must use reasoning skills to determine the next question that will help them narrow down the class’s location. After the exciting moment when each class correctly guesses the other’s location, the students share interesting facts about their state.

The video turned out well, and I was excited to show others how I merely had to facilitate, and allow my students to drive. I couldn’t wait for folks to see their engagement and visible learning!

Despite this, I was quite nervous going into the webinar session. I had no idea how many folks would come, or what questions I might be asked to answer on the fly! Of course, my fears were immediately assuaged when I realized I found myself immersed in a wonderful community of dedicated, enthusiastic, and supportive educators. The thirty minutes flew by!


So What’s Next??

These Virtual Classroom Visits are unique opportunities to watch teachers in action, obtain information and resources about their lessons, and chat with them about the work they do. Next week, on March 14th at 8:00 p.m. in Blackboard Collaborate (Click Here), PLP will host another webinar based on the practice of middle school teacher Alan Fletcher. Alan’s lesson is packed full of great topics such as using technology to find and share current events, creating Google presentations to inform others, and the art of commenting on student blogs. Although he works with middle school students, the information and methods he’ll share are applicable to all grade levels. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the great things he does in his classroom.

One more session will be held on April 11th, with high school teacher Beth Sanders. So mark your calendars for these remaining two sessions. Make the time to step into some innovative classrooms, and learn from these great educators in only 30 minutes! In the meantime, if you missed my information about Mystery Skype, click here for information, resources, and a lesson plan.

My deepest appreciation goes out to Sheryl and to Lani Ritter Hall for this opportunity – They are brilliant leaders, inspirational educators, and they never fail to push me out of my comfort zone!

 

Image courtesy of [digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Connected Coaching: Learning to Lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many months ago, I saw a Facebook post by Powerful Learning Practice about becoming a “Connected Coach.” This is an opportunity to work virtually with Year 1 PLP teams as they wrap up the year by supporting their efforts to create an action research project for their schools. I remembered my experience the previous year with PLP, and wondered if I could possibly be of help to others. I completed the application, but honestly doubted I would hear anything. I was not any kind of an expert in action research, and PLP probably wanted someone who had completed more than the Year 1 experience to help guide these teams. I wasn’t surprised when months went by and I didn’t hear anything.

Then suddenly, in late January, an email appeared, asking if I was still interested in this opportunity! Although my schedule should have led me to decline, I was honored to be considered, and was very interested in learning about connected coaching. Our e-course began the next week, and before I knew it, I was up to my eyeballs in new terminology like “appreciative inquiry,” “wayfinding,” and even “wonderings.” What on earth was a wondering?!? I was looking at models, protocols, and thinking I was definitely in over my head…

Before I knew it, I had “met” my lead coach, Gene, and had the list of the nine teams we were to support. Nine?!? For some reason I thought three… maybe four? I couldn’t imagine keeping straight the names of people on nine different teams, and their conversations on the PLP Community Hub in addition to completing the online activities for the e-course!

The more we talked about the qualities of a connected coach in our e-course webinars, the more I wondered why PLP thought I would make a good connected coach. I’m talkative, loud, opinionated, and a “jump in with both feet” kind of person. On a good day, I remember to make sure there’s water in the pool! Connected coaching was all about starting slowly, developing trust, listening, asking questions (mostly in the form of “wonderings”), reflecting, and patiently working with teams. Hmmm…

Fortunately, this was modeled beautifully for me from day one by our fearless leader Lani and my lead coach Gene. This was invaluable, as we were thrust right into our jobs and began posting our introductory videos on our teams’ sites immediately. We began to exchange hellos, talk about ourselves personally, and then eventually discuss some details about project ideas. I found myself remembering what I had heard and seen Lani do in our activities for the course, and without thinking, actually started a reply post with, “I’m wondering if…” It felt good! I also started seeing the benefits of using this questioning technique with my students. Suddenly, the challenge to help a team discover their own answers was so exciting!

At the same time, we were practicing trust building activities, co-creating content, and using video and images to connect with our community of coaches in the e-course. I was amazed at how quickly our diverse group bonded, encouraging and supporting each other through challenges and victories! Our weekly webinars are inspirational. There’s something about spending time learning with and from such a committed group of professionals that is a real “high” for us. It revitalizes us and gives us ideas and a fresh perspective to carry into our coaching.

I’m pleased with our progress thus far. I recently attended a webinar for the community, where I listened to our teams present their action research ideas. Since then I’ve helped them to focus their essential questions and wondered aloud how they would plan different aspects of their research and project.

As I reflect, I’m wondering if becoming a good coach will also help me become a better teacher, a better parent, a better friend…   🙂

 

Image: Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

How Do You Spend Your Saturdays?

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a particularly long week, a Saturday alarm set for 5:15 a.m. was not really what I needed… Saturday mornings are my one opportunity to sleep as long as my heart desires. I’m usually WAY behind after too many nights up past midnight at my computer. Wake me on a Saturday and there’s hell to pay.

Wayyyy back in September, though, I saw this tweet from Susan Carter Morgan:


@scmorganSusan Carter Morgan

Working on edcamp IS-VA for VA independent school teachers. #isedchat

11 Sep via TweetDeck

 

I had never done an unconference, and was intrigued. Our grant money to have a second year PLP team had been delayed, and I was feeling lost. Susan was an amazing resource through my year of PLP, and the opportunity to work with her sounded wonderful. I emailed her and her response made me smile:

“I just had a thought one day that we really needed to organize an edcamp for VA independent school teachers. I emailed a few people, and tweeted it once. We are just beginning to chat. Please add your name to the google doc and any thoughts…”

So I joined an amazing team of planners (they did most of the work) and yesterday, December 3rd, we held EdCamp IS-VA at Fredericksburg Academy. Fredericksburg is about 2.5 hours from my house – Hence the 5:15 alarm…

I had posted two potential topics for presentations on the wiki (bold (and possibly a bit stupid), since I’d never presented anything to anyone before) – Twitter and Digital Storytelling. Surprisingly enough, there was significant interest in both, and I ended up presenting one in the morning and one in the afternoon! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the most polished presenter they’d ever seen, but hey – there’s a first time for everything, right? Nobody shot me, so I’ll count that as a win…

It was a fantastic day… No surprise, when you’re with a group of educators who want to spend a Saturday learning from each other. Susan (aka Wonder Woman) did a phenomenal job organizing, and is already pumped about planning another unconference next year.

After leading two sessions, I was grateful to be able to attend the last session of the day. Susan led a session where we took a look at Will Richardson’s “rules”

  • Create your own education.
  • Find problems and solve them.
  • Be unique.
  • Make beautiful, useful stuff.
  • Build a network of really smart people who you will never meet.
  • Be indispensable.
  • Do real work that changes the world.
  • Have a brand.
  • Share widely and safely.
  • Collaborate.
  • Add value.
  • Be a voracious learner.
  • Tread softly but boldly.
  • Edit the world.

We talked about what these meant, where we agreed and disagreed, and even made some rules of our own! Looking at the rules, I remembered Will’s first presentation to us at the PLP kick-off last year, where he told us that we couldn’t remain “lurkers”. Over the course of the last year, I’ve learned what it means to “share widely”, and today was yet another step in that direction as I shared as a presenter for the first time. It felt good. J

Why I Love My PLN

image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikrowell/2955430710/

Wow… Was dipping into the Twitter stream tonight when I came across a tweet with the #elemchat hashtag. It wasn’t someone I followed (I do now!), but I was intrigued by her question about using Twitter in an elementary classroom, so I checked out her blog post. Immediately, I started getting ideas… The author, a 3rd grade teacher named Jen Smith (@hthehippo) was asking for advice:

To Tweet, or not to Tweet
By planetsmith

I would absolutely love to use Twitter in my classroom. My initial thought would be to create a classroom account and encourage my parents to follow it. I would prefer that my students write the posts, which would help with using powerful and concise word choice. I can imagine the possibilities also, of following other classrooms or connecting via a pen pal route. I suppose starting small is the way to go.

Each year I have digitized communication, to the point where I send very little paper home. As of right now, I Email a classroom newsletter, maintain a classroom website and encourage parents to call me during the day if they have questions. I also respond to parent concerns or questions via Email. Is Twitter too much? Am I going too far to include yet ANOTHER mode of communication? Will it make me or my parents and students absolutely crazy?!

The best part about summer, is that it gives me time to research such things. If you are reading this and have had experience at an elementary level using Twitter, I’d love any advice you may have to give!

It occurred to me that there were some great opportunities here – I responded:

I’m intrigued… I teach 4th grade, and like the idea of having the students write Twitter posts. I can see my kids going home saying, “I got to write today’s tweet!” Many of my parents don’t use Twitter though, and would probably not follow… You could not post important info that is not available elsewhere, but the kids could make great statements about their learning. You need a special hashtag so that you can save them and maybe publish them at the end of the year so they can look back on their learning! The more I write, the more I’m starting to like this idea… If nothing else, we could follow each other and give it a shot??

Jen and I continued our conversation on Twitter, and I thought about using the hashtag to create a Twitter feed on our class website. Then even parents who did not want to use Twitter could see the tweets from our class about our learning. I love the idea of the kids being able to look back on the statements they made about their learning throughout the year.

I was amazed that in the course of ten minutes, something new and exciting for this school year was starting to come together. If you are not “out there” and collaborating with other educators who can push your thinking and share great ideas, WHY ON EARTH NOT???

Just through Twitter this summer I have become involved in the Global Read Aloud Project, Mystery Skype, and found great project ideas during Twitter chats from members of my PLN. PLN, I love you guys!!

Best wishes to all for an exciting, collaborative year!

Why #hashtag?

twitter1

When I first joined Twitter about a year ago, I joined in order to follow my teenage daughters (stalker mom extraordinaire). Among their group of friends, they frequently used hashtags (#) at the end of their tweets such as #justsayin or #awkward to express their feelings at the time. Some of them are quite amusing!

After I began using Twitter for professional reasons as I built my PLN (Personal Learning Network), I saw hashtags being used by people at conferences such as #NAIS, #ISTE, etc. By “marking” tweets in this way, people could send a message to everyone in the group. Followers of the conference didn’t have to follow every attendee, they could just create a search column in their TweetDeck that filtered tweets for that hashtag – Brilliant! I started keeping track of tweets related to Powerful Learning Practice by keeping a column filtered for #plpnetwork.

What I didn’t realize until this summer (#slowlearner), was the ENORMOUS group of educators that are finding folks to follow and collaborate with by following hashtags. If you are an elementary school teacher, and have something to share or want feedback, put #elemchat at the end of your tweet. There are even hashtags for grade levels such as #4thchat. The list is endless – #mathchat, #scichat, #dyslexia, #edreform, #esl… You get the idea. Cybrary Man (aka master creator of educational link lists) has a page of educational hashtags here.

But wait, there’s more! Hashtag “groups” are organizing and having weekly discussions on Twitter! So if you are a 4th grade teacher, for example, you can log in to Twitter on Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. EST and join other 4th grade teachers for #4thchat. You can even vote on the topic for the chat in advance! I have even “lurked” during #6thchat as they discussed uses for Skype in the classroom. Great ideas! There is a new Google Doc with a list of twitter chats here.

It drives me crazy that more educators don’t take advantage of these opportunities to learn and connect through social media tools like Twitter. Scott McLeod says it best:

In an era in which the possibilities for ongoing professional learning are numerous and significant, I wonder how long will it take us for us to start expecting educators to use these social media tools. It’s been 30 years since the advent of the personal computer and we’re still struggling to get teachers and administrators to integrate digital technologies into their daily work in ways that are substantive and meaningful. Meanwhile, we now have a bevy of powerful learning tools available to us that can advance our own professional learning (and, of course, make our technology integration and implementation efforts more efficient and effective).

It took me a year to figure out some of these #twittertips (another useful hashtag). I hope this helps more educators to connect more effectively and see the value of Twitter as PD. What have I missed? Please add helpful tips in the comments! *Tweet Tweet!*

Year-End Observations of a Teacher-Learner

2006-06-24

I’ve been teaching for a number of years, but this year was different. This year I spent almost as many hours learning as I did teaching. It was indeed a busy year… but my best yet. When I went to the Powerful Learning Practice kick-off in Dallas back in September, I was blown away by all that was “out there” that I wasn’t taking advantage of in my classroom. The temptation to jump in with both feet was huge! PLP encouraged us to spend the year learning. What a waste it seemed, to focus solely on myself and my learning for a whole year when I could make an impact in my classroom NOW!

But there was plenty to learn, and an entire PLN to develop… In addition, we got a new division head at school, and I found there was even more to learn – new teaching methods, new voices in education… My head was spinning, and suddenly I wished change wasn’t coming so hard and fast.

The year flew by, and although I resented being pushed in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I was pushing myself. I became hungry for learning. I was reading articles and blogs every night, and playing with new programs to see what would be most useful for me in the classroom. Recently I was featured as a guest blogger on PLP’s Voices From the Learning Revolution, and hope to keep writing for them. I wanted to impress our PLP leaders, my bosses, and more importantly, I wanted to help bring visible change to our faculty and my students. I ran myself fairly ragged for the better part of the year.
Last week our team went back to Dallas for our PLP culminating event. What a rush! The trip was a whirlwind, but it was incredible to be back with our cohort as we learned, shared stories, and encouraged one another.

Things are going to continue to be hectic… As a result of my work this year, I decided to start my Master’s program this summer through The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. They offer graduate credit for the PLP program, and will apply those credits toward my Master of Science in Education – Curriculum & Instruction degree. The emphasis is “Teaching 2.0” – with a focus on the shift in education, new pedagogy, and technology integration. Classes start next month.

In April I wrote a blog on motivation. Almost two months later, I’m still hung up on it… As the final days tick by and I reflect on the year, that important question emerges: What was it that made me push myself so hard? What motivated me to take on extra responsibilities, and to go beyond the requirements of the PLP program? Surely it was more than my stereotypical “first-born” nature…

Here are my top 3 motivators:

1. Passion. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are some of the most passionate people I have ever met. Their enthusiasm and tireless efforts to improve education are nothing short of inspiring.
2. Support/Encouragement. Having the support of my PLP team and administration gave me the boost to keep going when things got rough. The voices from my PLN also kept me on track.
3. Incentive. Watching my blog readership grow, and being recognized by PLP and my school as a leader was incredibly motivational (this is that essential “positive feedback” piece).

Teacher enthusiasm is definitely contagious. It’s one of the best ways to get students excited and keep them engaged. Students need to feel they are supported and need to hear our praise. Then they need to get something back for their efforts. What should that be??

How do we push them, get them excited, and most importantly, leave them hungry for more?

I’d love to hear from you – What are your biggest motivators as a learner? How do you inspire students to continue learning beyond the classroom? Do you feel the things that motivate us as adults are also the things that motivate youth?

Powerful Learning (put into) Practice

Wordle: PLP-ARP

In many of my previous posts you’ve heard me mention my experiences with PLP (Powerful Learning Practice), and the journey our Digital Learning Team has traveled this year as part of this transformative professional development program.

Most recently, our team has created and begun implementing our action research project, the culminating project for the year. It took an enormous amount of brainstorming, patience, and determination to create a project that would work for our entire Pre-K to 12 faculty. The project had to be completed in the last 2 months of the school year, when we guessed faculty might be most resistant to having yet more work heaped upon them…

Our first idea was entirely too broad – When we presented it during an Elluminate session with our cohort, we got shot down – hard. We were angry, frustrated, and went back to our corners sulking and fuming… for a day. Then we took a deep breath, pulled together, and got down to business. What emerged from that point was an incredibly successful effort I would love to share.

Our team decided to choose one area where the faculty most needed to grow – collaboration. We have three separate divisions that hardly see each other! We wanted to find a way we could bond as a faculty with the assistance of some new technologies that we hoped would excite our staff. We would share ideas and resources, and demonstrate the power of collaboration.

We felt strongly about these things:
• The faculty is overworked, and seldom receives positive reinforcement for their efforts. Salaries have been at a standstill for years. We felt it was important to give something back to the faculty – to provide positive feedback and incentives.
• We needed to make sure the faculty felt supported by our team, and knew they weren’t alone.
• We wanted to show the faculty how their learning was going to be useful and relevant for them.
• Although the tasks were required, we chose to make it fun.

We decided on two tasks each faculty member would complete.
1. Each faculty member would contribute to a discussion on our school Ning, and post a discussion or article. Here they could have a voice, and contribute to discussions about school policy and practice.
2. Each faculty member would create a Diigo account, bookmark a site, and follow a member of the Digital Learning Team. Here they could understand the benefits of online bookmarking, and find and share new resources with colleagues.

We introduced the project in 15 minutes at an all-school faculty meeting this month. We started off with a funny Xtranormal movie (a creative way to introduce the project AND show off a fun tool). Then explained the project and encouraged folks to ask us or one another for help. (Did you watch the movie? Go back right now and watch the movie.)

THE GAME: To make it fun and supportive, we divided the staff among the 7 of us, so that everyone would have a team member for support. We created a game called Ningo Bingo. Everyone received a bingo card with 9 activities. It was not required to play the game. You could just do the 2 required assignments and be finished. But… if you did just one more, you could earn a Bingo! Those who earned a Bingo could take their card to their Digital Learning Team support member and receive a small prize. We gave out bags of candy with positive affirmations – i.e., a bag of Tootsie Rolls with a note that said, “You’re on a ROLL – Keep learning!”

Those who really wanted to have some fun had the option of completing all 9 tasks on the card for a “blackout”. These tasks took the development of a personal learning network a step further and included things like commenting on a blog, creating an RSS reader, etc. Those who earned a blackout could choose a $10 gift card to a local business AND have their name put in the drawing for an IPAD 2!!! Names of those who have earned a blackout are posted on the Ning for all to see.

The response has been nothing short of incredible. Folks who swore they would NEVER use technology are all over the Ning… They’re posting articles, asking questions, and exploring well beyond what we’ve asked of them. Administrative support staff (that we did not require to participate) are emailing us, asking if they can “play”… Wow.

As I reflected on the experience, I thought about these things: What motivated our faculty learners? What were the optimum conditions for learning? How did we create a project that worked for all levels of ability? Why did so many learners go “above and beyond” the requirements? How many of them will continue learning on their own?

George Couros posted a blog entitled “Don’t Fear the Teacher; Creating the Optimal Learning Environment” – I came across it today and realized how many of these conditions we met with our project. The question is… Am I meeting these conditions in my classroom as well? Are you?

What Motivates You?

motivate

At the beginning of this school year, I submitted an “application” of sorts to be considered for a new team at our school. A “Digital Learning Team” was being formed, with only 6 faculty members that would participate in the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) program. We attended a kickoff in Dallas in September, attended several Elluminate sessions, and are wrapping up the year by creating an action research project for our faculty. We’ll celebrate the year and share what we’ve learned back in Dallas next month. I was honored to have been chosen for this team, and have put many hours into learning and growing this year to improve my teaching and to help lead others.

As a “student” I’ve stepped into some very new territory and learned to use a plethora of new tools! I also began writing this blog, created a Google Reader, and became active on Twitter. Collaboration and sharing are two of the most important concepts I have embraced this year. I have also begun to value creativity and innovation more than ever before. These concepts define 21st Century Learning for me: COLLABORATION, SHARING, CREATIVITY, and INNOVATION.

What best motivates me to work these crazy hours, learn new programs and create accounts for each student, write a regular blog, keep up with an RSS reader, Twitter, and two Nings? I can answer that question in two words: POSITIVE FEEDBACK. It’s embarrassing, but I’m a glutton for it. Here are just a few examples…

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, co-founder of the PLP program, cross-posted one of my blogs on the PLP blog. She tweeted a link to another one of my blogs with the hashtag of the NAIS conference she was attending. She has a HUGE following, and was recommending that people read MY blog!! I was beside myself for days…

• I attended a social event at my school last weekend, and the Associate Head of our school told me how impressed she was with what I had learned this year. I went back to my table and beamed…

• I created an Xtranormal movie to be used as part of the introduction to our action research project, and tweeted a link to Susan Carter Morgan for feedback. Within ten minutes she tweeted back with an enthusiastic positive response, AND put a link to the movie on her Scoop.it! on Educational Professional Development. Suddenly the three hours I spent creating the movie were all worth it…

Ok, this sounds like it belongs in Will Richardson’s “Shameless Self-Promotion Department” now, but that’s not the point… The point is that positive feedback is incredibly motivational. I knew this… but suddenly when it was me, I got it.

I’ve worked with my 3rd graders this year to help them see the benefits of collaboration, sharing, creativity, and innovation. One thing we have done is to learn how to use Storybird and Glogster to produce creative stories and posters, and most importantly, share them with others. My students love these sites, and frequently use their free time at home to create new stories and posters. This is one BIG selling point for Web 2.0 – I’ve never had students working voluntarily at home on the weekends!! I take care to leave a positive comment on anything new they’ve created so they know I’ve seen it, and am proud of them! They love getting feedback from each other as well. It motivates them to keep trying and pushes them to produce higher quality results, hoping for more positive comments. What more could I ask for??

On the wall behind my desk is a piece of art that says simply, “Inspire”. When I am in the front of the room teaching, I can see it behind my students – It reminds me what I am there to do. To inspire – to motivate – to encourage. Positive feedback may be the most important tool I use.

21st Century Revelation – It’s Not About Me…

MeCircle

The other day I was thinking about what an incredibly different year this has been for me. I didn’t make a career change, a school change, a grade level change, or even a room change. So why on earth has this year been unlike any other? For the first time, my job isn’t only about MY students, MY lesson plans, or MY goals. Friends, I know it’s shocking (you can only imagine how hard it was to swallow), but it’s not all about ME!

All joking aside… I feel like I’ve had a 21st century revelation. My participation in Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) has shown me the power of collaboration. This has been an intoxicating experience! I’ll admit it – I started out a “lurker” as Will Richardson would say… I developed my PLN, and started reading blogs, tweets, and ning posts. But I remember Will wagging his index finger at us at the PLP Kick-Off in Dallas way back in September, telling us it wasn’t fair just to lurk – We had to contribute. What did I have to contribute??

Well here we are, six months later, and I feel like maybe I’m finally getting it. I’m getting a ton of good resources and ideas from teachers all over the globe – but I’m not sitting on them! I think we’re called upon to be channels for this information. I’m always on the lookout for things my colleagues can use. My boss was looking for information on a Digital Citizenship curriculum, so I’ve been sending things her way when I find them. Today she put out a request to our team to find instructional materials for the recent events in Japan. My division head has encouraged us to learn more about reading and writing workshops. Our PLP team is looking for web 2.0 tools to share that will help teachers integrate technology and really make a difference in instruction… The list goes on.

So what does this mean? It means I’m spending a pretty serious chunk of time each day cruising my Twitter feed and reading blogs!

i-want-my-life-back

But it also means that I’m not only learning and hopefully improving my impact in the classroom… Hopefully I’m serving a greater good, and giving back to those in my PLN that have given so much to me. I’m more likely to ask a teacher if I can observe a lesson, pick someone’s brain on a new idea, or ask advice on a student situation. I’m not afraid to admit I don’t know it all and consider myself fortunate to work with incredibly talented colleagues from whom there is much I can learn. Together we are so much stronger than we are alone!