Advice For Teachers? 10 Things To Not Lose Sight Of This Year

sparkfunelectronics-teacher-advice-fiAdvice For Teachers? 10 Things To Not Lose Sight Of This Year

by Terry Heick

For many of us, school’s starting soon. Instead of a tool or learning model or 1400 word essay, how about a few quick ideas that might just save you this year–if you can keep from losing sight of them.

10. Schools should be ready for students, not the other way around. 

I’m not sure where I heard this recently, and Google wasn’t helping me figure it out, but it’s perfect. You’re there for the students, not the building, the district, or some organization.

9. The school year is a marathon, not a sprint.

And this should have significant implications for instructional design–spiraling, for example. Some ideas students can “get” right away, while others will take all year. Continuously spiral those sufficiently complex ideas so student shave a chance to master them.

8. You don’t need a million tools and strategies to teach well.

So use a handful that are flexible and powerful. The 40/40/40 rule is a wonderful on-the-fly measuring stick to help prioritize content, teaching, and assessment. Other useful tools that can come in handy? Metaphors, similes, and analogies (using them to teach complex ideas–“a thesis statement is the _____ of an essay a…”; “The Civil Rights movement was like…”; RAFT assignments. Choice boards.

7. People change, and students are people.

You never know what a student is going through, or “where they are” in their development as human beings. Have a short memory, and be their best chance to become something great.

6. The students should talk more than you do.

This one’s easy to forget, especially when you have so much to teach. There’s the shift though–try to focus on what students are learning and how, rather than what “you’re teaching.”

5. A growth mindset includes a sustainable mindset.

You can’t teach if you’re exhausted, misinformed, too hard on yourself, disconnected, or misunderstand your role in some critical way (as a colleague, a peer, a teacher, a department leader, etc.) It’s not your job to save the world. Every child needs something differentIn response, try to adopt learning models, tools, teaching strategies, and more–and use them in a way that doesn’t require superhuman effort from you to make it work. They should work harder than you do.

4. You’re a professional, and you control your own attitude.

You see what you want to see, so choose to see and assume the best in people and circumstances, and move forward from there. Schools can be places full of bad policies and absurd bureaucracy. You probably can’t change most of that, so focus on what you can change–and that starts with how you think.

3. How you make students feel can last a lifetime. Careful. 

You are a larger than-life-figure to most students. You’re a teacher! You may be the loudest voice in their already busy mind. Consider the character you play in that mind accordingly.

2. It’s not your job to prepare students for “the real world.”

Holding their feet to the fire for a deadline? Refusing to let them retake an exam? Requiring them to work with students they don’t begin to work well with? And doing so under the guise of “the real world”? For it to be successful, school should be the exact opposite of these characteristics we cheery pick from “life.” It should be a time to help them learn from mistakes; a place that helps protect them from themselves; a chance for them to adopt mindsets based on love and growth, not fear and policy. While this doesn’t excuse accountability measures for students, the big idea is clear: School is there for the students, students aren’t there for the school.

If we want a better world, we can’t continue to ladle in the worst parts of that broken world into our classrooms.

1. The students are always watching you.

How you treat people (even the “problem students); how you show compassion or model accountability. Where you go for resources. How you define “success.” What you do when you’re frustrated or upset. Your dedication and craft and expertise. They may not see it all every single time, but they never stop watching. This means your voice carries on outside the classroom, where they’ll continue to talk about you.

Advice For Teachers? 10 Things To Not Lose Sight Of This Year; adapted image attribution flickr user sparkfunelectronics

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A Teacher’s Guide For Creating A School Twitter Chat

school-twitter-chat-fiA Teacher’s Guide For Creating A Twitter Chat In Your School

by Nellie Mitchell

A twitter chat is an amazing resource for professional development AND gives educators the option to participate in their PJs, from the comfort of their own home! It is essentially a chat room, with everyone sharing and talking and hanging out virtually—discussing learning strategies, classroom management techniques, and technology.

A good chat stimulates great conversation, but also has the power to motivate an entire district. It is a way to build and develop a growth mindset that is neither forced nor overwhelming. The motivated, technology-enthusiasts will jump at the chance to learn about the next big thing from their peers—-and will genuinely pursue new ideas. A twitter chat can help teachers develop their PLN—as they figure out whom to follow, find great infographics and articles, and connect with other educators locally and globally.

Twitter is always a great resource for PD, but some teachers either don’t have time to use it or don’t know how. A district twitter chat gives teachers a chance to send a few tweets, and use hashtags in an environment that feels safe. It also gives them a chance to use twitter in real time—while watching TV or catching up on Facebook—-so there isn’t as much pressure to ‘figure it out’ in an afternoon meeting. It also provides immediate feedback—someone is definitely going to read and respond to the tweet, and teachers feel like they are part of something—a dialog that is much bigger and more powerful than a meeting in the school library.

Webb City School District in Missouri has been hosting monthly chats for over a year. Teachers in the district say that the chat is their favorite resource to gain relevant new ideas and collaborate with teachers in other buildings.

What Works

By making the chat time consistent (e.g., the first Tuesday of the month from 8-9 p.m.), this can help teachers to keep track and participate when their schedule allows. It is optional, so if teachers have sports or family obligations, it is okay if they can’t make it to every chat.

What To Do Before The Chat

  • Pick a theme each month to focus on. Write about 5-6 prompts for an hour of chatting.
  • Send out a list of questions a week before the chat. This is incredibly helpful for teachers who are very busy!
  • Use Remind—to get a reminder tweet 30 minutes before the chat starts.
  • Use Twuffer or Future Tweets to schedule some tweets in advance. It can get tricky to read and respond to tweets if a lot of people are in the chat—scheduling and thinking about your responses to the prompts in advance helps. You will get a lot more out of a chat if you are present—scheduling the tweets is not the same as participating in the live chat—-and it is obvious who is there and who isn’t.

What To Do During The Chat

  • Just introduce yourself with first name, school name and grade.
  • Use a common hashtag for the chat and answer each prompt with A1, A2, according to the question. Also use Ts and Ss to shorten ‘teachers’ and ‘students.’
  • Use TweetDeck to follow the chat in its own little window.
  • Favorite anything that is shared that you might want to see again later or read later.
  • If you are managing the chat or behind the scenes–you could use Tweet Binder to get data on the statistics of the chat. Tweet Binder tells you who is who, how many tweets are sent, etc.

What To Do After The Chat

  • Use Storify to document and collect all of the tweets from the chat and archive it on the district website.
  • Here is a compilation resource —-how to use hastags, twitter quick start guide, and archived chats from the Webb City District that you can use as a reference if you are starting a district chat for the first time.

How To Incentivize Participation

Many teachers with a Twitter account have never even sent a single tweet. One idea to pull in those hesitant teachers into the chat is to offer a little incentive. Something simple that is relatively easy to manage but also worth the hour of time (or sometimes two if they schedule some tweets in advance).

  • The building with the highest percentage participation in the monthly chat earns a free jeans day. With such a simple incentive, many people are encouraged to get involved—parents, aids, cooks, and even custodians chime in with a tweet or two during the chat to represent their building!
  • Each person who participates in the chat gets a sticker for a free jeans day. The #wcedchat is even strong in the summer when there is no incentive—but the jeans coupon is a great bonus during the school year!
  • Each person who participates in the chat gets to leave 15 (or even 30?) minutes early the next day (or the next PD day).
  • Other ideas? Please leave some suggestions in the comments!

Make It A Committee Effort

Create a district team of dedicated teachers from all levels who are enthusiastic about the chat. The committee members sign up for various tasks to make each chat a success.

The committee can use a Google Doc to generate discussion and take notes after an initial meeting. A GoogleDoc can be a great place to draft the questions/prompts, sign up for jobs and delegate tasks. Also, the document can grow and develop over time, with everyone adding their thoughts and ideas for long-term goals.

Possible tasks for the committee each month?

  1. Email staff with dates, times AND questions a week before the chat
  2. Welcome people to the chat (2 people greet and say hi to others as they check in)
  3. Welcome and close chat
  4. Tweet out a reminder 1 week before the day of chat
  5. Tweet questions 1, 3, and 5
  6. Tweet questions 2, 4, and 6
  7. Document participants and share with admin (to award stickers of participation)
  8. Give twitter tips and archive chat
  9. Email staff about incentive winners

Another great part about using a GoogleDoc to collaborate—the committee members can add new ideas, draft chat topics, and sign up for tasks at their convenience. By collaborating virtually, teachers and administrators involved in the chat committee don’t have to add tons of extra meetings to their schedule.

A Few Themed Chat Ideas To Get You Started

  • Data
  • Mobile Learning
  • Personalized Learning
  • Digital Literacy
  • Reflection
  • Summer PD
  • Back to School
  • Parent teacher conferences
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Lesson Planning Tools
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Favorite #edtech

Sample Letter To Colleagues One Week Before The Chat

Happy Summer to all. I hope that everyone can find some time to join us for #wcedchat Tuesday at 8pm. This chat will give us a chance to share some of the ideas that we have gained from our summer experiences. Here are the questions for this week:

Q1 (8:05) What was your favorite part of summer? (Professionally or personally) #wcedchat

Q2 (8:15) What new things have you discovered over the summer that you are excited to try in your classroom? #wcedchat

Q3 (8:25) Advice for new teachers: What can you do the first few days that will make a dramatic difference the remainder of the year? #wcedchat

Q4 (8:35) Do you have a favorite or new back to school “get to know you” activity? #wcedchat

Q5 (8:45) What app/web tool are you excited to use this year? How will you use it? #wcedchat

Q6 (8:50): What can you take from tonight’s #wcelem to use as you think about the upcoming school year?  #wcedchat

Want to join a district chat before you start one?

The next Webb City #wcedchat is August 4th, 8-9 p.m. and the prompts are above if you want to join! Here are more of the best twitter chats for teachers in 2015.

Other Ways You Can Use Twitter In Your School

Use Twitter as a Mainstream Tool for School Improvement

A Lesson Using Twitter must Have a Social Component

10 Reasons Twitter Works in Education

A Teacher’s Guide For Creating A School Twitter Chat

The post A Teacher’s Guide For Creating A School Twitter Chat appeared first on TeachThought.

FREE BOOK: 10 Habits of Bloggers that Win by Vicki Davis

Limited Time Offer

Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win is one of my most popular posts of all time. Ten simple habits have helped me grow this blog. Since I wrote that post in 2006, it needed an update. It grew into an ebook. Eventually, I’ll sell it on Amazon. For now, I’m giving it away to a group of readers — you.

10 Habits of Bloggers That Win

Just sign up for one of my mailing lists. It’s yours!

Why Am I Doing This?

I have three reasons.

1. Publishing has changed

First, there’s a new way to publish books. It is where people crowdsource a book. That audience gives feedback. The author includes the audience in future revisions. The first set of readers are called alpha readers. That’s you.

After the book is revised, then it is released. Many people have done this. I’m trying it now.

After you read the book, email me. Feedback. Stories. Ideas for improvement. Pictures. Some of you will shape the future of this book. Hey, I could even use a better cover. 😉

2. My loyal readers deserve benefits

Second, I want to give benefits and freebies to those who trust me with their inbox. This is the first of more to come.

3. Because school is about to start

Third, lots of people want help with blogging. School is about to start on Monday. If I don’t share it now, it will sit on my computer getting old. I’ll improve it as feedback comes in. I figured I’d try out this alpha reader thing. I’ve been wanting to do it.

Sign Me Up and Send Me the Book

I have two mailing lists:

After you sign up, you’ll receive the email with the link. Click on the book and click download.

NOTE: This is not for you to share, distribute, or publish. It is for you to read. If your friends want it, they can sign up and get their own copy.

This work has come a long way from the original blog post.

Thank you to my friend Sylvia Duckworth who previewed the book and put in a sketchnote!

Sylvia is the first person who has mashed up this book and helped it improve. This is exciting. I have no idea what will happen with this. So, now, I’m clicking publish.

Remember, this is for a limited time. When I get enough readers and feedback coming in and start revising, I’ll move on and share another freebie. Don’t worry, I’ll always share the freebies with those on my email list.

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Pinned to Tutoring on Pinterest

Description: An online version of Liping Ma’s Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. Use the table of contents to navigate to a chapter based on a problem area for students in elementary math such as subtraction with regrouping, mult-idigit multiplication, division by fractions, etc…
By Patricia Anderson
Pinned to Tutoring on Pinterest
Found on:

“The Peace Of Wild Things” By Wendell Berry

peace-of-wild-things-fi“The Peace Of Wild Things” By Wendell Berry

by TeachThought Staff

Presented without context, a beautiful poem about suffering, anxiety about the future, and ultimately–finally–love. By our resident muse, Wendell Berry, here is “The Peace Of Wild Things.”

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things” from GMO OMG from Compeller Pictures on Vimeo.

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