I was too chicken to try this last year. Robert Kaplinsky has a great site that demonstrates the power of #ObserveMe, the hashtag I saw all over twitter last fall. He has templates, examples, stories, etc. but as I went to write my questions and print my sign I chickened out. The thought of inviting in my friends and colleagues at random times was scary to me. I never minded if people stopped by to hang out or ask questions but the thought of being so transparent and admitting that there were things I still wanted to improve was really awkward.
I reflect constantly; it’s part of my learning process. During meeting at George School we sat and mostly reflected on our lives and the world around us. We synthesized what we learned in class with what we learned in the dorms, from our friends, our parents, our discussions with peers. During the National Board process I was constantly pushed to reflect on how what I did with students impacted their learning. NBPTS has a great little publication called “What Teachers Know and Should be Able to Do” that I still refer to, reframing the five core propositions as reflective questions.
But now I am in the unique position of being able to go into classrooms and see the amazing work English and Language Arts teachers in the Anchorage School District are doing – I find myself turning again to the #ObserveMe movement I was too chicken to try as a classroom teacher, choosing instead to rely only on myself. Though I think the questions we ask ourselves should intersect with the questions we ask of others… So, teachers, as I start scheduling classroom visits please let me in on the questions you ask yourself and I will give you my answers. It doesn’t mean that what I think is the only answer, it just gives you another viewpoint to help you on your own journey of continual improvement.
In the meantime, I am working on my own #ObserveMe sign for my new little office. Stop by and visit so you can help me as I learn my new position and work on how I can improve.
Just one week ago I sat down for an interview for a position I was pretty sure I wanted, but wasn’t sure my heart was ready for. It’s been a whirlwind week since then but resulted in me sitting in an office instead of a classroom, and taking on a new position in the district.
I love teaching. It’s my passion, my hobby, and often all consuming. But for the last few years I have worked to lead more professional development, be more deliberate and focused with technology integration, and take on more small leadership projects. Last year, working on the implementation of AP Capstone and AP Seminar at South, I felt pulled in too many directions and had to pause some of the things I feel passionate about lest I begin to not be there as a good teacher for my students and become a too-exhausted parent for my children.
So now I am the language arts curriculum coordinator for the district. I get to pull together all of the elements I love about curriculum and instruction, including inquiry based learning and flipped learning, together and perhaps stay a little more focused and sane.
My head tells me that all of this will work out but, since I am very attached to my identity as a classroom teacher it will be a bit before I am really adjusted. The emotional components of this switch will take a little while to process.
I LOVE it when my students come in to talk to me about their work and grades in my class but I really love it when I know they are coming and I know what they want to visit about. Since I teach primarily upper grade classes I post “office hours” on my door because I know that will be a good transition into college for students.
In the past, I’ve just asked kids to tell me ahead of time that they are coming. But this year I have set up a “You Book Me” link on my website. It integrates with my school district Google calendar and was pretty simple to set up. When an appointment is scheduled students will even be asked to tell me what we are meeting about, so I can be prepared to give feedback on writing, clarification on an assignment, etc.
I set it up with a custom URL offered by youbook.me and then followed the directions. It integrates nicely but you don’t want kids trying to book appointments during other classes so it’s important to create “appointments” in your Google Calendar that will block out those times – I even made it so kids can’t book times during my conference period so I can make sure to get focused work done during that time.
You can customize the appointment lengths, start/end times (helpful for schools with odd bell schedules), color of your calendar, etc. If you are trying to set one up and hit a wall, ask me for help! It took a little finagling for me to get it just right and that may be the case for you, too.
The image on my website takes students to the booking calendar
My booking calendar has grayed out times for when I am in class, so students can only choose before school, after school, and lunch
blocked out time in my Google Calendar
I created two blocks of classes and then made them repeat on weekdays
I love these station ideas for the first days of school!
This is what the hashtag looks like when I follow it in TweetDeck
I am SO looking forward to year two of using Twitter in AP Lang class.
This year we plan to tailor the question stems more toward the essay focus for the quarter, so students will briefly argue, synthesize, and analyze the articles we post on Twitter for them to consume.
My concern was that all too often students did not read what was posted but, instead, read and paraphrased the tweets sent by their classmates. For the most part, the students who I suspect did this the most often also scored lower overall on the AP exam. I am sad about this but I don’t have a good idea for how to combat it. I think I need to stress this year what the skills are that they are practicing and be more specific as to how their tweets help them on the exam. I don’t think this ongoing assignment made a wrong turn into “busy work” but I was not as explicit and transparent about what it did for them.
In terms of grading, I always got behind. This year I have the hashtag loaded into TweetDeck so I can do a better job of finding the tweets and assessing them in a timely manner.
Anyone else using Twitter with students and have tips to share?
I’ve noticed over the last few years that my colleagues have questions about technology integration that can’t be answered well in a few minutes at the copy machine. Or they take a class but it doesn’t really address their pressing needs for how to effectively use tech with students for improved engagement, workflow, grading, creation, etc.
I’m here to help! I created a short page that lists a lot of the basic needs educators seem to have, along with a contact form. Though this was designed to help people locally, I can also tutor over Skype or create short videos that can be watched at your convenience. Best of all, the tutoring session includes email follow-up and support.
This is a HUGE timesaver because you can personalized service so you can be more efficient with your time once you get started with your project.
Check it out! http://wp.me/P1PDYt-7X
https://www.credential.net/embed/u4er4aksI just finished this short certification from Flipped Learning Global. Though I have been leading professional development workshops on flipped and blended learning for a long time now, the certification training gave me some ideas for how to improve those workshop sessions, especially since in the early fall I will be adapting the workshop to a one-credit class format. Check it out! http://flglobal.org/trainercertification/
https://www.credential.net/embed/t8u2e7xpI wish I had saved what I just wrote for feedback on this course. SO worth the time and small investment. I can’t wait to do the next levels.
You can check out a free course on tech for the flipped classroom before diving into the whole thing.