Monday, February 29, 2016

PD: Just a Twitter Chat Away

We encourage our students to be life-long learners. As teachers, we need to be life-long learners, too. Finding time to attend a workshop or conference isn't always easy...but I'm here to tell you, what is offered to us educators via Twitter and Google+ communities is nothing short of a PD miracle! (Okay, maybe not a miracle, but seriously, who knew all of this amazing stuff was out there at our fingertips--often in 140 characters or less!)

So--with this in mind--here are some reminders of what we often encourage our students to do in our classrooms...along with some questions to ask yourself. If you get stuck on answering some of them, I encourage you to get on and "play" with Twitter or join a Google+ community--you'd be surprised how quickly your "play" becomes so much more with regard to professional development.

I encourage my students to be lifelong learners and to be open to learning in many ways. 

Q:  Am I a lifelong learner in my profession? Am I excited to learn something new, or do I see professional learning opportunities as "just one more thing I have to do?"

I encourage my students to ask questions that are outside the box. 

Q:  Do I ask myself questions that challenge what I am already doing in my classroom? Do I question my own teaching practices? 

I encourage my students to locate information using technology to help solve problems that arise from the content that we are discovering in my classroom. 

Q:  Do I use technology to solve my own teaching dilemmas? Do I have multiple on-line resources that I use regularly to find answers to my questions about teaching?

I expect my students to become comfortable in a variety of settings (both real and virtual) when it comes to collaboration. I encourage them to regularly seek out people from outside of their own learning community to gather information and ideas on a daily basis. 

Q:  Do I collaborate about teaching in a variety of settings? Do I reach out to teachers and professionals outside of my community on a regular basis? Weekly? Daily? (Google+ communities, weekly Twitter chats, Linkedin, Facebook Groups.) 

I expect my students to create amazing artifacts that they are vested in as a result of what they are learning in my classroom. 

Q:  When I learn something new with regard to the profession of teaching, how is it showcased in my lesson planning/classroom? How does it directly affect student learning? 

I expect my students to contribute to the active learning that takes place in the classroom. They are expected to share their knowledge with their peers to move everyone's learning forward. 

Q:  When I learn something new, how do I share it with my peers? Do I actively seek out ways to share my learning? Am I excited to share my newly acquired knowledge with others in my school, corporation, or world-wide learning communities?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Always a Chance to Learn

     Welcome to my first blog! It's been a task to think of an overall theme that might encompass my personal and professional life--but I think I finally landed on it. The Learning Reaction.

     We all have our own story. When I look back on my own and what has spurred me on both personally and professionally, it's been to take on the mindset that no matter what I experience there is always some amazing learning to be had...for myself, my friends and family, my students, and the teachers I surround myself with daily. This is good stuff, people. Especially when the tough stuff happens. 

     In my personal life it's that tough stuff that comes to mind that has taught me the most (although I was unable to see this at the time.) Losing a sister in a tragic car accident when I was only 9, watching my father live through the throes of Alzheimers, and dealing with epilepsy rearing it's ugly head in the last five years and having two particular hard episodes, one that sent me to the ground right in the school parking lot, and the other that stopped my heart for 9 seconds (sounds like a short period of time, but the EKG read out was quite sobering to look at and after hearing the story from my husband, I'm glad I don't remember a darn thing.) Through these things I've learned to not take the presence of friends and family for granted, that there is a tenderness that comes from feeding and diapering your own parent that grows tenderness and humility in your soul, and that even though you are a control freak, when you have epilepsy you learn that you can't control everything, and you'd better learn to be flexible when you're not able to drive for 6 months at a time! (Holy cow--good thing I think my husband is, like, the most handsome chauffeur EVER.

     In my professional life--when it comes to kids, I've learned that the language we use with them is just as important as what we teach them. By having a learning reaction to their inquiry instead of rescuing them creates people that are self-thinkers, problem solvers, and empowers them to take on the tough stuff that life will throw at them. (See above paragraph for examples ;~)

     When it comes to working with teachers in the area of technology integration, the spectrum is wide. For some teachers it is a second nature to learn a new learning management system, take on a new software program, or understand the new standards-based report card, while others need to develop a learning reaction to their frustrations in their learning. While this is a more difficult part of my job, I love the challenge. 

     So--that's my taking on a learning reaction in my life continues to make it immeasurably better. We always have that choice when it comes to something new or when something upsets our cart of comfortableness. I choose the mindset of a learning reaction---and it's been a good, good thing. 

Click here for a great article on having a learning reaction with our students.