Saturday, August 5, 2017

Improving Feedback

I want my students to learn.


I want to empower my students as well.  


I want them to realize success as independent learners.


To realize these ends, I have encouraged student voice and choice more and more through the years. Last year, I handed the students the reins for a PBL experience around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


To further students on their path of self sufficiency and to stimulate their growth as learners, I want to improve feedback in my classroom.  I want it to be more frequent, more efficient, and, most of all, used by students. (Too often, it seems, feedback given on their work is not thoughtfully considered by students, while feedback through conversation will only  be implemented in the moment.)


I look to the following three resources to help.


Creating a Culture of Feedback
To support feedback as a norm in my classroom and to enhance self sufficiency, students will need to self assess. This will require guided practice.


In Creating a Culture of Feedback by William M. Ferriter and Paul J. Cancellieri, I was reintroduced to the video Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work.  The clip shows how students, with direction, can successfully provide specific, constructive feedback for peers and themselves. They need to build this skill to become better learners and to enhance their ability to produce high quality work independently.


By sharing the video with students, giving them guidance, and having them practice, students will gain confidence in their ability to both self assess and peer assess. As they become more comfortable with self assessment they will gain the ability to independently create higher quality work.


Live Exit Tickets with Google Forms
I was introduced to Kevin Zahner through Twitter and was excited to find his blog post on on exit tickets.

He describes how students complete their exit tickets with a Google Form and results go into a Google Sheet. Zahner links a sheet to the form that was created using Alice Keeler’s RosterTab Template.  This allows a separate tab in the sheet to be generated for each student.


He also creates a query so that the students are then able to see their own responses from the form in their own Google Sheet. The most compelling part is that the feedback the teacher provides within the individual student tabs can be seen immediately by the student.


ANCHOR conversations.jpgThis could be used for either exit tickets or tickets to board. Giving immediate and ongoing feedback during class would give students the chance to act on that feedback. This should be highly effective and powerful.

ANCHOR Conversations
Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf focuses on developing school culture. One thing they share is ANCHOR conversations.


Even though the ANCHOR Conversation practices are geared toward feedback between adults, I can see how students would benefit from similar guidelines. Embedded in ANCHOR conversations are developing trust, valuing the other person, remaining positive, and highlighting improvement.


I want to more routinely conference with students to provide them feedback. Using the ANCHOR Conversations guidelines will remind me how to maximize my interaction with students, making the feedback more productive.


I look forward to incorporating these three ideas so my students can receive better and more efficient feedback while developing their confidence as independent learners.




If you have had success having students use effective feedback, or if this post has generated some thoughts of your own, please share in the comments. I would appreciate hearing from you.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Using Mystery Skype to Bring the World into Your Classroom


Student centered and inquiry based, Mystery Skype energizes students to learn about other places.

This tool has been useful in teaching world geography to 7th graders as it helps bring the world closer to the classroom, enlivens the content, encourages analyzing information, and develops questioning and critical thinking skills.


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Mystery Skype in action. The bottom shows students from Belgium on the
computer monitor while in the background (the top) my students collaborate
and view the Belgian student on the SMART Board.
A Mystery Skype is basically like 20 questions during which the two classes are trying to figure out the other’s location.  The teacher sets up the game with another teacher either through the Skype in Education website or social media such as Twitter.  Once a date and time is set - very difficult since no schools have the same schedules and class periods rotate through our school’s - you’re ready to go.

Well...almost.


Having never done one before, I was tentative to just let the students fumble their way through the challenge with me.  I looked online for help and found teachers that structured their classrooms during Mystery Skype.  Paul Solarz and Pernille Ripp gave great suggestions regarding roles and etiquette.


My colleague Sam Mandeville and I collaborated on roles our students would take on, and since we were both tentative of letting our respective students loose on the world, we set up a Mystery Skype between our classes.  Even though we were right down the hall (classes took on the role of city, country so they could actually play) and the students knew one another, it provided a terrific opportunity to put us at ease and work out kinks.  The students were also exposed to the flow of the game.


My students connected with places all over the world including Malaysia, Belgium, Canada, and Singapore.


As we gained more experience, we used less structure by having  a few students record questions and answers and all students generating and asking questions. Even a number of the quieter students stepped right up to the microphone.


The students were engaged, learned more about where they live relative to other places, were exposed to other cultures, and made connections to people otherwise impossible.


Next year, in addition to Mystery Skype, I hope to use the power of Skype to connect my classes with others around the world to collaborate on different topics or projects.  This will further enrich their lives and develop them as global citizens.



If you have had success with Mystery Skype, if you have had other positive Skype experiences in your classroom, or if this post has generated some thoughts of your own, please share in the comments. I would appreciate hearing from you.





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Project Based Learning: Engaging Students in Learning with Purpose


“Would you rather hear about changing the world, or do you want the opportunity to do so? A story about a world-changer might engage us, but becoming world-changers will change us.”
~ George Couros ~
The Innovator’s Mindset


Student-driven learning.


Project based learning.


Service learning.

I wanted to tackle each of these and make them a priority in my classroom this year. As I was planning prior to the beginning of the school year, I contemplated the role of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. What unfolded before me was the opportunity to blend all three together.


The following video was used to kick off a unit of study on the UN's Global Goals: https://youtu.be/ry_9SU0eq9M.


It not only piqued student interest due to their sensitivity to threats on our planet, but it also challenged them to do something about it.


So I put it to them: What can you guys do to help spread the word about the Global Goals?


File_006.jpegThe students came up with a long list of actions they could take, from talking to their families and friends about the Global Goals to holding a community forum. They determined what would be feasible to accomplish in class and decided to create public displays, develop a web page, create promotional videos, and have a public presentation.


The most challenging aspect for me was coordinating multiple classes to work together. In the past I had different classes work on different aspects of a big project, but never before had I had students across classes working on the same endeavor. My solution was two-fold. I had a group of representatives from each class meet and organize the project. They decided how to tackle the obstacles of students from the various classes working on one project.  The second solution was to create areas of communication. Students used whiteboards, sticky notes, Google Docs, and Google Slides to interact and coordinate as they researched and created.  


Not only did students drive the learning and the products, but they had the ability to choose what role they would take in investigating the goals and spreading the word.  In class, after having students individually brainstorm their strengths and weaknesses, I had them all circle up in the center of the room.  I put it to them again: Listen to everyone and determine, together, based on strengths and weaknesses, who should do what.


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Student display at the YMCA.
File_001.jpeg
Student display at the Franklin Municipal Building.
They stumbled at first and had trouble wrapping their heads around how they should proceed. (I don’t think they were used to so much autonomy.)  But in the end, they figured it out, without my help, and students seemed satisfied.


Many played to their strengths in video creation or technology, and some pushed to work with their friends.  But others pushed themselves to take more of a risk and opted to speak during the public presentation.


As they worked, students of varying understanding and abilities challenged themselves by staying focused on the objective of the Global Goals: how to make our world better.  Students were diligent and productive. They engagement level seemed heightened.


Students asked for clarification of difficult concepts as they strove to understand.  Many were astounded by some of the information they dug up on topics such as hunger, poverty, education, gender equality, and sanitation. They were moved and motivated.


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Student speaking during the presentation to family and peers.
After becoming grounded in the Global Goals, students created, developed, and designed. Once completed, they were eager to know that their work was being shared. In addition to tweeting out their web page (linked here) through our class Twitter account (@Mr_dEsClass), I arranged - based on student feedback - for the displays to be put at the local town offices and the local YMCA and for the students to make a presentation to peers and families.


Naturally, the students speaking in front of an audience were the most anxious about their work going public. The others hid behind the veil of their work being seen from afar. The speakers, however, were exposed on stage.  And they came through brilliantly, rising to the occasion and impressing the audience.


At the beginning of this piece, I shared an excerpt which I had reflected on in a previous blog post:
Tapping into students’ strengths and interests seems to be vital in engaging students.   It may also help lead the students to seeking the opportunity to become a “world-changer.” By grabbing students by their strengths and interests and combining that with touching their hearts, a classroom can elevate a student’s interest and engagement into wanting to make a mark on the world.
My students care; they have a strong sense of right and wrong; they want to help. Tugging on their heart strings through our common human story while allowing students to direct their learning will allow them to accomplish the great things of which they are capable.
The opportunity we took with the UN Sustainable Development Goals touched my students’ hearts, motivated them, encouraged them to rise to the occasion, and allowed them to make their mark on the world.

An email from a parent reinforcing the positive nature of the student driven and project based learning.


One of the student created videos.


If you have had success with project based learning, student driven learning, or service learning, or if this post has generated some thoughts of your own, please share in the comments. I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leaving the Controversy Out of the Presidential Election

This election season has been tense.  Many have become quite heated about both candidates which has made others very tentative. With unimaginable accusations swirling around the two major parties’ candidates, many teachers have experienced consternation around discussing the election in their classrooms.

Presidential elections have generated positive excitement in the past, even when people vehemently oppose a candidate. Being aware of people’s heightened sensitivity surrounding this election, I contemplated what I should do in my classroom.


As a social studies teacher, I would feel negligent not bringing the election into my classroom during the race for the presidency. A presidential election generates meaningful and long-last learning opportunities for students while encouraging them to take steps in becoming active citizens.


My conundrum: how do we adequately discuss the election while keeping the enhanced controversies involved with this election outside the classroom door?


I decided we need not delve into discussion about the candidates and their imperfections. Rather I took the approach of students wrestling to identify where they stand on national issues. By avoiding the personalities of the candidates, I could better open the students’ eyes to the election.


Students looked at a broad range of issues, sought to come to a basic understanding of the issues, attempted to recognize opposing views on the issues, and strove to identify on which side they felt they may fall. Students struggled to fully understand - I told them they would, especially since most adults do - but I encouraged them to try to get some sort of sense as to each issue and their own view. I reassured them that they manner in which they happened to answer now did not define them, especially with limited understanding.

Student reflection on what she learned from our election 2016 activities.
After they analyzed the issues and determined where they stood, we discussed. Students moved to a side of the room based on their view - some started in the middle because they were torn or unsure. And then...conversation. The big realization for the students was that each side had legitimate reasons for their views. They respectfully listened to one another and considered the reasoning. Sometimes students directly addressed another’s point; sometimes they simply contributed another argument to their side. But sometimes students switched sides. Some in the middle were swayed to a side; some on the opposite side sometimes made the long walk over to the the other side of the classroom.  Students in the middle were able to articulate how they were torn: noticing they felt reasons on both sides of an issue were equally strong.


Students next looked at some basic information defining liberals and conservatives. They again looked at some different issues and determined if they felt the reasons on the liberal or conservative side were more compelling. Next the students aligned themselves on a spectrum from liberal to conservative. The students were well spread out though many clumped on either side of the middle.


By first examining their own thoughts, students were ready to look a little bit at the candidates. Instead of determining which candidate they agreed with, the students determined - issue by issue - which candidates agreed with them. Students discovered two significant points. One was that the candidates, whom they only thought of as being opposed and disagreeing with one another, had some agreement on some issues. This was eye-opening for many.  Another moment of revelation involved the candidates agreeing with the student views. Students saw that each of the four candidates on the Massachusetts ballot agreed with their own views on different issues. So, although they didn’t see themselves as a supporter of a certain candidate, they saw that there was some agreement - and disagreement - between themselves and EACH of the candidates.

To conclude their investigation into the election, prior to a mock election experience, students will practice media literacy skills. They will analyze political ads from different candidates looking for the techniques they have used to sway voters. Students will also propose alternative ways the candidates could have conveyed the same message. I anticipate similar success with this activity as was had with the others.


Clearly, I’m please with both my approach and the students' interactions with difficult content. The activities helped to show that understanding political issues is difficult, identifying our own views on the issues can be difficult, there are legitimate reasons on both sides of the issues, and there was no perfect candidate that matched all of their views.


Hopefully, this learning opportunity will inspire some of the students to become more concerned and active citizens.



If you have been teaching about the election, or if this post has generated some thoughts of your own, please share in the comments. I would appreciate hearing from you.

Friday, July 29, 2016

14 Times Innovator's Mindset Forced Me to Reflect

You’re kicking back enjoying your summer, looking forward to get lost in some books, the beach, or maybe even your own garden.
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"Free Image on Pixabay - Sunglasses, Desert, Reflection." Free Stock Photo:
Sunglasses, Desert, Reflection. Accessed July 27, 2016. https://pixabay.com/
en/sunglasses-desert-reflection-nature-1382261/.
But your mind drifts back to your classroom. Subtly stirring in the recesses of your mind is the upcoming school year.
Ideas about what you want to do better or differently silently creep into your conscious.
You are reflecting on your teaching.
And when you choose to attend a conference or read a book about teaching, your wheels start churning again...maybe even stronger and more deliberate. The reflection allows you to see things in a different way.
When I picked up “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros (@gcouros), I suspected it would prompt me to reflect on my practices as a teacher. I was not disappointed.
Below, I share some reflection that came streaming forth when Couros’ accompanying lines prompted.



“To succeed, they will need to know how to think for themselves and adapt to constantly changing situations. And although we say we want kids to think for themselves, what we teach them is compliance.”

The first statement has been a belief of mine for quite some time. I will often press students who have questions with questions of my own to help show them that they have the answer readily available or if they think through it a bit.  This has been quite effective...although it is initially frustrating for some students….and the frustration lingers for those who just want the answer.  


This leads to the second statement. Those students who just want the answer - and there are many - are those that are being compliant. They want to make sure they can get the grade that is acceptable to themselves and their parents. Tell me what the answer is; tell me what I need to know; how long does the writing have to be.


Although I have cajoled some into become more independent in their learning, I have not been thorough or swayed most.  Even those who appreciate my answering questions with questions are still striving for high levels of compliance.


I need to do better showing them that the learning, not the grade, is what matters so they can break free from the shackles of compliance.




“As leaders, if we ask teachers to use their own time to do anything , what we’re really telling them is: it’s not important.”

Homework.
Quite a few years ago, I stopped having homework influence student grades.  I knew that the homework either artificially inflated or deflated students grades which are somehow supposed to show what they know, not whether or not they completed work.
I made the transition to no homework two years ago.  I wanted the students to do their work in front of me so that I could give them feedback, guide them, and support them.  Often parents, on the pretense of helping their children succeed, can intervene with homework.  This can give an artificial sense as to what the student actually knows and can do.  I don’t want parents to be heavily influencing their children’s work so that there is not as great a degree of learning.
But this passage presented a different lense to look through.
If the work assigned as homework is not important enough to be done with immediate teacher feedback, guidance, and support, is it really worth the students’ time? And will the students be sufficiently motivated to put their best effort forth with it - or will they just do it quickly so they are able to show they got it done?


“....what do most schools focus on when talking about technology? ‘Cyberbullying’ and ‘digital safety.’”
“We are spending so much time telling our students about what they can’t do that we have lost focus on what we can do. Imagine that if every time you talked about the ability to write with a pencil, you only focused on telling kids to not stab one another with the tool. What would you really inspire in your students?”

The past two years, I had the privilege to serve on my school district’s Digital Learning Committee.  The culmination, at this juncture, was a presentation to the school committee.
The presentation had two foci: rights and responsibilities and scope and sequence.
Immediately afterward, I felt disappointed. I quickly realized why. The officials focused their questions and comments on the rights and responsibilities portion of the presentation. They zoned in on concerns about student safety and technology potentially distracting from learning.  They were very pleased with the proactive approach regarding rights and responsibilities.
But they focused little on the potential of technology to impact student learning. In fact there were no questions and few comments about what the students will know and be able to do with technology.
I understand that the reaction may be due to thought that the pitfalls which sometimes happen with technology seem overwhelming, and, in their role, the school committee may be very attuned to that. I also realize they do have a sense that technology is important for learning. But I hope they will quickly begin to understand, in a tangible way, how digital tools can deepen, extend, and transform learning.


“I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative.”

I like the distinction the term “innovation” is given.
But, initially, it is quite intimidating.  How could I ever create something that is new and better? What a tall order.
Upon further reflection, however, I realized that the idea only needs to be new and better for me and my students.  Innovation does not need to be some completely original concept that the world has never seen before. Instead, innovation can simply build on what is already out there. Take something you haven’t done before and tweak it to meet the learning needs of your students. Without realizing it, my lessons, my classroom, my students’ learning experiences have started to become more innovative.


“The power of networking is sharing ideas, clarifying our thinking, and developing new and better ideas.”
“Sometimes, the most valuable thing you get from the network isn’t an idea but the inspiration or courage to try something new.”

A past administrator I worked with encouraged teachers to engage with Twitter. He didn’t have much success. Although he did not push hard and make it an expectation, many teachers felt he made an edict and that they would be judged negatively if they did not use Twitter.
He has since left and so has the “pressure” to use Twitter. Some teachers had created accounts and tweeted a couple of times, never really seeing the value. Others have been more embracing.
I think it is a lost opportunity in not connecting with other educators. Our hands are often tied if trying to interact with those within our own building - different schedules and so many “urgent” tasks on that list.
But connecting through social media, allows flexibility for teachers to meet on their own time. Use five minutes to take a sip from the stream of information. There are people sharing ideas that will be useful to your role as an educator. It also allows you a moment to reflect on your current practices and clarify your beliefs about education.
This blog furthers that purpose. I not only wanted to model blogging for my students, but I wanted a simple, convenient, and consistent arena in which I could reflect on my work as a teacher.
The connections to be made via social media enhances teaching. It accelerates our abilities to meet our students needs. The power of social media is getting better together - with countless numbers - and giving confidence to take a risk, rather than going it alone or with a small band of confidants.


“If innovation is going to be a priority in education, we need to create a culture where trust is the norm.”

I speak of trust with my students. And I’m getting better at giving them my full trust.
Fortunately, my classroom is 1:1 with Chromebooks. While others may be concerned as to what mischief students may get into while they are supposed to doing their work on the device, I share with students that I am trusting them to use it appropriately. They seem to appreciate that I present the technology as an opportunity and a responsibility with which I am entrusting them.
Students are also being allowed more and more autonomy in my classroom. I am affording them greater trust in making decisions about their learning: What will your final product be? How will you go about showing they understand? How will you demonstrate you have that skill? What are you going to go about finding out about that topic?
Putting the students more and more at the center demands greater trust of those students. They respond well, and I believe their learning is enhanced while developing skills and attitudes that they can apply to other classrooms, other grades, and other areas of their lives.


“Can you imagine going to a place every day where you felt your voice didn’t matter?”

Students have been given greater voice in my classroom over the last several years. As I noted in my comments about trust, I am affording students more choices regarding their learning. Also, to the end of greater voice, students in my class are expected to maintain a blog.
Their blogs are an opportunity for the students to reflect on and share their learning. In addition, they are encouraged to view classmates’ blogs and comment on the posts. This allows them to develop their own voices and to observe the voices of their classmates.
I need to, however, do a better job of getting others - students, parents, educators, community members - to view and comment on their blogs. This will accentuate that the students’ voices do matter. Right now, they do not see their blogs as very far reaching. I need to facilitate the power of their blogs in a much better manner so that students’ voices are amplified and they can feel the significance of their voices.


“Engagement is a good thing, but I’ve since learned that we must also empower students and equip them with the skills to learn. It is imperative that we teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning, rather than rely on others to simply engage them.”
“Would you rather hear about changing the world, or do you want the opportunity to do so? A story about a world-changer might engage us, but becoming world-changers will change us.”

Discussion about students taking their own lead often comes up indirectly in my classroom. I usually emphasize how little they need me by guiding them to finding their own answers and solving their own problems. In my mind, I have always strived for engagement by the students. But I guess my example shows I am actually trying to strive for more; I just never considered self-directed learning to be on a higher plane than engagement.
Tapping into students’ strengths and interests seems to be vital in engaging students.   It may also help lead the students to seeking the opportunity to become a “world-changer.” By grabbing students by their strengths and interests and combining that with touching their hearts, a classroom can elevate a student’s interest and engagement into wanting to make a mark on the world.
My students care; they have a strong sense of right and wrong; they want to help. Tugging on their heart strings through our common human story while allowing students to direct their learning will allow them to accomplish the great things of which they are capable.
If I loosen their reins more, they will, perhaps, realize the great power they have at their disposal.


“8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom”

Screenshot 2016-07-27 at 10.32.49 AM.png
When first reading this section of "The Innovator's Mindset", I immediately began reflecting on my own classroom to “see” if those eight elements are presented.
Viewing Sylvia Duckworth’s sketchnote, I saw a simple, yet engaging reference which I could quickly look back at as a reminder of elements I want to strive toward.
THEN, it hit me…..I need the students to look at the sketchnote.
I want the students to view the sketchnote and assess their learning experiences: Where have you seen these happen in classrooms?  What did it look like?
And to push it further: What can we do in this classroom to make sure we experience each of the eight elements?
This would not only push me as a teacher, but it would also give the students greater voice and control in the classroom, creating a powerful opportunity for them to direct their own learning.


“Drop Everything And Reflect.”

I understand the importance of reflection. I struggle, however, with having the students reflect.
I’m not sure whether this is due to feeling a pressure to get through curriculum or whether it is due to feeling unsure as to how to structure that reflection for students. I always struggle as to how to prompt the students to reflect.
I feel like the simple label “Drop Everything and Reflect” helps to give a simple structure. It at least identifies to the students what we will be doing and stresses its importance.
Reflection also needs to be done during the learning process, not just afterwards. Opportunities for growth and learning are lost if there is no reflection during the learning process.
I may turn, as a starting point, to the simple reflection questions that are offered in “The Innovator’s Mindset”:
1. What is something you learned about today that you would like to further explore? Why do you want to explore that topic?
2. What is one big question you have moving forward?
3. Any other thoughts that you would like to share?
These questions at least give me reassurance that I am on a right track and that I have something for a fall back plan.


“Carolyn reminds me and others that when we show a genuine interest in those whom we serve and go out of our way to help them become successful in areas about which they are passionate, they are more likely to go above and beyond what is expected.”

This screams to me: How can I help students work with topics for which they have passion but are not topics we are investigating in class - the ones not in the curriculum?
And then comes the softly spoken answer: Ask them.
I would love to be able to offer my students this opportunity. Imagine getting to work with students who want to learn coding, architecture, costume designing, etc. How invigorating would that be for both students and teacher?
The big roadblock does not really seem to be “how” but “when.” When, in the course of a very busy school day for both teacher and students, can I offer time to encourage their passions?
Perhaps I can carve out class time. Perhaps I can work with them as a resources asynchronously. Maybe it would need to be reserved for after school.
There is some solution. We just need to find the one that works for us.


“Let’s take the time to understand what is possible from a learner-centered point of view, instead of blindly buying technology then asking ‘Now what?’”

I am frustrated with the “Now what?” approach.
Technology, it seems, is often purchased simply to have it.
There was a big push several years ago to make sure their was an interactive whiteboard in every classroom. Although a powerful tool, I felt money would have been better spent to get technology into the hands of the students rather than invest in a teacher-focused device. There also was minimal training. So, the primary result has been whiteboards from which you can electronically save the notes.
Blending technology into my classroom has always been a priority in my classroom, I am ahead of the curve of most in my district, and I know that it's best when students can use technology to make connections with others and to create content. Yet, in nearly 25 years of teaching, I think I have only been asked input on technology once. That was through a general survey to all teachers when, I think, the district was trying to gauge teachers’ comfort levels with technology.
Clearly, I think my opinion (my voice!) should be valued and sought after.
But to add a layer of student feedback and insight would be invaluable.  Meet the students where they are at and accentuate their voices. Show them they are valued and that their input matters. The impact of technology would probably be far more reaching if all stakeholders had input.
This may even open students’ eyes even wider to the possibilities presented through technology simply because they were asked.


“I quickly learned that the best way to become a better educator is to have access to other teachers.”

You are a first-year teacher, wide-eyed and overwhelmed. You barely even know where to begin.
You turn to that teacher next to you with the adjoining door.
Years later you’re still opening that door for support and also seeking support from others who you’ve come to trust.  We always turn to others to help us be better.
But now, the entire teaching profession is at our fingertips. Twitter, Facebook, Google Hangouts, etc. enhance our ability for getting better together.  A great pool of collective knowledge and experience is there for us….waiting to be tapped. But many stay isolated. They may reach beyond their own classroom walls into their neighbors’ classrooms, but they are reluctant to access those other connection that can be made.
Remember back to that experience as the overwhelmed first-year teacher. You opened that door; you didn’t really know or trust that person...yet.
The same is true for those you could get to know through a platform such as Twitter. You just need to reach out and take that risk. And, just like the colleague next door, if you are not getting what you need from that person, move on to another.
And you can expand ten-fold as a teacher.


“....the success of a school should not only be measured by what students do when they are in school but also by their impact on the world after they leave the school environment.”
“If we want to build on the strengths of our students, we need to develop them as learners who explore their passions and talents. For schools to do that, educators will need to unleash that talent and hunger for learning in themselves first. If we only teach students the curriculum, we have failed them.”

Well, that just upped the ante. And stated much more clearly and succinctly than I would have.


Students need to realize that just learning the curriculum is not enough. They are too important for that. They are too powerful for that.


When students leave my classroom, I want them to have a sense of their importance and power. The development of their character, behavior, and habits are far more important to me than whether or not they remember some facts about some topic or event.


I need to give them greater opportunity to impact the world NOW, while they are still in seventh grade, so they can carry that sense of collective responsibility, empathy, and power with them. I want them to feel their own significance.


I have the opportunity to create, for students, opportunities which will show them them their value and the far-reaching impact they can have.


If you have had your own moments of reflection this summer, or if this post has generated some thoughts of your own, please share in the comments. I would appreciate hearing from you.

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