Today, I had the pleasure of presenting at Edscape 2011. The title of my session was Spontaneous Professional Development. You most likely have heard this term before as it is used pretty frequently these days.
Here’s the description of the session:
There are a plethora of FREE Web2.0 resources for bringing professional development to the educators in your district. Archived webinars can be viewed at home in your pajamas or with your PLC (professional learning community) as part of a district meeting. Using archived and live Blackboard Elluminate (desktop video conferencing) sessions from presentations all over the world, harness the power of your network to virtually keep learning.
List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system. Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students. If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.
This is the first semester in many years that I am not taking a graduate class in the evenings. I decided to take a break so that I would have more time with my family and to devote to the astonishing amount of professional development offered through the folks in my PLN via distance. Last semester, as I sat in a room without wi-fi listening to the class discussions, I found myself really feeling like I could spend my time more wisely participating in EdTechTalk events, the DEN or ISTE in Second Life or even some of the impromptu gatherings that happen via UStream or Skype. I just wanted to make sure that I was putting myself in an environment where I could learn.
One thing that stuck with me from one of my recent classes in supervision was that when you go into a school or a district as a new administrator, you should not make immediate change. You should observe and learn the culture before you can make decisions as to what would make improvements.
So, though a part of me wants to make changes in education, the other part of me knows that these things take time, and I’ll keep working towards making improvements within the districts that I have come to know the culture and populations of. The teachers that I work with know that I believe in “taking baby steps” and that things take time.
Here is my list. There are a few that are a bit more achievable, but I can dream big, right?
1. I would like teachers to view themselves as professionals so that the portion of the population that doesn’t, that sees teachers as working from 9 to 3 and having summers off, will know how much we are devoted to our profession. There are so many devoted educators that put in countless hours to improve teaching and learning in their classroom and to make sure that they meet the needs of their students. Let this be known.
2. I would like all educators to see the positive in each and every student. I know it’s difficult, but they are all someone’s child and they all need love, understanding and sometimes extra assistance or compassion.
3. I would like students to play a larger role in the writing of curriculum. If we give our students more opportunities to take ownership of their education, then maybe there will be more success stories. Students need to invest in their futures as well and this is one way for them to do so.
4. I would ask that administrators find the needs in a district before taking on an initiative to fix something. There is always more than one way to look at something. Let’s make sure we are addressing the right issues before determining what we think are the right solutions.
5. I would like all teachers to “be teachable“. Mandated professional development is not always the way to go. Educators, and people in general have to WANT to learn in order to truly learn. I would love it if all teachers were open to trying new things, open to doing what they already do well – more, and willing to share resources. How do we accomplish this? Well, I do believe that enthusiasm is contagious…
If you are reading this post, you most likely have thought about this list of 5 things to improve in education. Perhaps you’ve even implemented changes to make these improvements. I’d be curious to know what other things you are looking to change. I therefor tag the following bloggers, but anyone is welcome to leave a comment or post the meme on their site.
It was, in all honesty, an honor to be nominated by Liz Davis and Kevin Jarrett in two categories for the 2008 Edublogger Awards. I never thought that I would win. I actually predicted that Angela Maiers would win for Best New Blog and she did. We started our blogs at just about the same time and hers is so chock full of quality and meaningful resources and information that I knew she was sure to be awarded the honor. Among the other 13 nominees was also Human, which came in second and a host of other Edublogs that deserve a read.
I also really enjoyed the experience of the awards ceremony. (I had to attend – it was an excuse to go shopping in Second Life.) I commented in the EdTechTalk (which incidentally won for Best Use of Audio) that it was difficult to simultaneously manage the chat in EdTechTalk, the chat in Second Life and the audio which I was listening to through iTunes as the quality was better than in Second Life. But it was worth the multitasking, to be able to communicate with everyone that came to participate in the event. I especially enjoyed my time with Riptide_Furse who represented the DEN for their award, Best Use of a Virtual World.
Everyone in the chat and the audience at the awards were very supportive of all the nominees and Josie Frasier did an excellent job MCing the event. Should you have missed the hour-long ceremony, you can go back and view the video or chat logs at EdTechTalk. You can also see the pictures that I took as I posted them on Flickr. (They’re a little biased though, I will admit.)
My daughters get confused sometimes about what I actually teach. Even though they’ve been to my office, they know sometimes I’m in a school teaching. They know I also go to school every Tuesday night. So they never quite know how to ask me about my day. Sometimes they ask me how work was, sometimes how school was and more recently they have caught on a bit and have started asking me what age the people I worked with that day were. But that can get tricky too.
This week was long. But amazing.
Monday AM – I spent my morning here working with middle school students and their teachers on video podcasting. Last year I had helped their wonderful Technology Coordinator, Linda Epps, with the list of software and hardware she would need to purchase to start video podcasting with some of the classes in the school. The grant that Ms. Epps wrote included, as we discussed, professional development for the teachers involved, including in-class coaching with the students. So, on Monday, as part of the final phase we storyboarded, recorded, found podsafe music and made the most of the 60 minute block. I saw four classes that day. One ELL, one math, one reading and one writing. By the end of the day we had established a plan for my return that coming Friday.
Monday PM – I left straight from the school and went into New York to check into The Pod Hotel. From there I took the subway to Google. Did you know that the footprint of the New York office is larger than 2 football fields? Anyway, I arrived between Eighth and Ninth avenues and 15th and 16th streets to meet with Mark Wagner, Cristin Frodella and Allison Merrick to help set of for the Google Teacher Academy the next day. We filled schwag bags, put out the teacher binders and did anyhting and everything to make sure that we were ready for the 59 prospective GCTS.
Monday 8PM – dinner with all above and the rest of the lead learners. We had a fantastic dinner and it was great to catch up with old friends and have a chance to get a acquainted with new ones.
Tuesday 7AM – 9:30PM Google Teacher Academy – It flew by. Before I knew it, the day was over. Each participant went through 6 tech tools rotations, 3 inspiring ideas, a tour of the Google offices, presentations by Cristin Frodella and Mark Wagner with regards to GCT responsibilities and details about Google Apps Education Edition as well as group activities, Office Hours with the Lead Learners and of course trips to the micro kitchens.
Wednesday AM – American Education Week – I’m lucky that I can work from home occasionally. I try to once a week to catch up on phone calls and e-mails and to be able to participate in my children’s education. On Wednesday morning from 9:35-10:20, parents of first grade students in my daughter’s school were invited to come in and observe a lesson. I was so impressed with my daughter’s teacher. She kept the students engaged and she obviously had varying levels of abilities in the room and worked her way around during the lesson to try to meet all of their needs. She was patient and nurturing and everything that my husband and I had been hoping for in a first grade teacher for our daughter. My daughter and I both enjoyed having each other there. My visit was extended when her Speech teacher came to get her and one of her classmates for their twice-weekly session. Bonus for me – an additional 40 minutes of school time. I followed the small group of three as they stopped to pick up two additional students and continued with them as they made their way to a small classroom (or closet). I appreciated the extra time with my little one and look forward to speaking with both of the teachers at parent-teacher conferences.
From Speech I was off to the Scholastic Book Fair and then a quick meeting with the building Principal to talk about the needs of the teachers involved in the Center’s 21st Century Learning Initiative.
Wednesday PM – E-mail, Google Reader, returning phone calls and prep for Thursday PM and Friday.
Thursday AM – I usually get to the my office on campus once a week. If I’m there a second time, it’s usually because I’m teaching a workshop in our lab. We had a quick meeting Thursday morning, one of consultants came in to borrow some software from me to install on her laptop (it was a legal install) and I tried to go through my snail mail. Thursday was also the Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Rutgers Faculty Dining Hall. So at 12:30, I headed over there with my colleagues and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.
Thursday PM – The 4th in a series of 6 after-school academies at a local (to my house, not to Rutgers) elementary school. At the superintendent’s request, I designed a series of 90 minute workshops to be held after school. One set was for the middle and high school teachers and another for the K-5 buildings. Today, I was excited as the teachers were coming prepared with pre-recorded audio to edit in Audacity and then upload to their Schoolwires pages. I knew the group of 10 or so would come in ready to work as they had been so enthusiastic the weeks prior and I had really enjoyed working with them. I was right. They all left that day with something published.
Thursday 7:30PM – I didn’t think my week could get any better, but it did. For an hour Thursday evening,
Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes and Alice Barr interviewed me on EdTechTalk. Their Seedlings show airs every Thursday night from 7:30-8:30. I usually listen to it on my iTouch, since that’s when I’m putting the kids to bed, but this time I listened live. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them. I hadn’t had the opportunity since BLC08. But I had spoken with Alice and Cheryl at the Google Teacher Academy on Tuesday and we spent some time going through the different events of the day. We also spoke some about Universal Design for Learning and how my Center has been working with some local school districts to bring UDL into NJ. I’m honored that Bob, Cheryl and Alice asked me to join them Thursday evening on Seedlings. I hope they’ll consider asking me back.
Friday – I traveled back to Orange Middle School. I worked with students and their teachers for four 80-minute blocks. The classes were all very different. I think the first may have been my favorite as the teacher was actually not there. I had known ahead of time that he was going to be out of the building, but I had wanted to make sure that were able to finish the project, so had offered to work with the students anyway. Did I mention that over half of them did not speak English? I had a great time. They were so welcoming. They were happy to have someone come in who wanted to work with them. I had a webcam with me and we were using the SMARTBoard and the SMART Recorder and they had a blast. We had to do more takes than usual, most likely because of the pronunciation issues, but other than that, I didn’t notice the language barrier. I modeled everything for them and they followed my lead. They were amazing.
The second and third classes were math and reading and we mostly edited. The filming had been done when I was in earlier in the week. But the students were amazed at how easy it was to mute sound, edit out bloopers and add credits to movies.
The last block was a writing class. The students had all written letters to President-Elect Obama and were filming the last of them as I walked in. I sat down with a few of them and modeled how to convert the videos once downloaded from the video camera and then we started bringing them into Windows Movie Maker. From there they really didn’t seem to need me. I was so happy to see that the students were ready to take on projects like this and that the teachers would be able to continue with their plans as the students would be able to implement them.
By the way, my youngest daughter is in the kitchen as I write this asking what grade I teach. My husband is trying to answer her. She’s five.
I can only hope that every week is as rewarding as this one has been. I consider myself very lucky.