As I think about the “busy-ness” that is a part of the teaching profession, the time and energy it takes to be well-prepared and organized for each day and the necessary professional development to stay up-to-date on current practices, it all seems next to impossible. It may be tough to get to a training session before or after school or there may be a topic of interest that has nothing available for training when it is needed or wanted.
I have come to rely heavily on my phone or device to access credible articles, information and professional reading. This generally happens while sitting in my chair in the evenings.
Below I share with you some of my favorite learning sites on both Facebook and Twitter.
Edutopia/@edutopia (Helpful ideas and great learning)
MCTM/@mctm_mn (Excellent book studies and conversations)
NEA Today/@NEAToday (General information regarding the teaching profession)
Minnesota Weather/@NovakWeather (Weather forecasting-Used a lot last winterJ)
Trauma Informed Positive Behavior Support/@ti_pbs (Insight into what some of our students are experiencing)
Fawn Nguyen/@fawnpnguyen (Excellent, insightful math teacher)
MindShift/@MindShiftKQED (Explores the future of learning)
Principal Kafele (Baruti K. Kafele)/@PrincipalKafele (School leadership thoughts and ideas)
Danny Steele/@SteeleThoughts (Culture, leadership, education thoughts)
WeAreTeachers/@WeAreTeachers (Ideas, inspiration and support for educators)
Share ideas that you learn and sites that you find with your colleagues. There is a lot of wonderful learning at our fingertips.
This post brought to you by Ann Miller, K-8 Math Specialist
Take a moment to imagine the following classrooms . . .
This classroom is focused on procedures and routines. Students come into class and check their homework for the right answers. The teacher records homework in the grade book (could be a score on the number of correct answers or could be for completion). Students do an opening activity for the day's lesson, the teacher teaches the lesson/concept, and students get some work time on an assignment until the class is done.
This classroom is focused on what the students know/don’t know. Students come into class and immediately star two problems from the homework that they want to discuss with their table group. Table groups work together on the problems that each starred, sharing how they solved/attempted the problem. The teacher asks groups to share out with the whole class any problems that are still unclear. The class works through these problems, and then the teacher gives a formative assessment with similar problems students were just doing to check for individual understanding. The teacher collects and sorts the formative assessment as students work on an opening activity for the day’s lesson. The teacher introduces the lesson/concept for the day and then, during work time, meets with groups of students broken into groups according to the formative assessment sort.
After reading about these two different classrooms, what do you notice? What do you wonder?
I know when I think about my own education, I had many classrooms that were exactly like classroom A and very few like classroom B. I also know that when I started teaching, I ran my classroom very much like classroom A; it is what I knew and was successful in. I wonder: If I had learned in more classroom B experiences, would I have started running my own classroom that way?
Academic Safety--encompasses the social and emotional safety of the student and the student’s perception of his/her ability
The classroom scenarios above have different levels of Academic Safety. Some may think that students in classroom A have more academic safety than classroom B. However, after reading the book as well as these articles (see below) it becomes evident that it is actually classroom B that has more Academic Safety.
Alber, Rebecca. "20 Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment." Edutopia. September 2011.
Gonzalez, Jennifer. "Is Your Classroom Academically Safe?" Cult of Pedagogy, October 2, 2016.
Dance, Rozlynn & Kaplan, Tessa. "Talking in Math." ASCD Express, July 26. 2018.
A closer look suggests there is more academic safety in classroom B. The book and the articles, mentioned above, summarize key ideas teachers should think about to foster academic safety in their classrooms. Below are seven ideas to try in your classrooms to build academic safety for your students:
By incorporating even one of these ideas into your classroom, you will be helping to support the social-emotional well-being of your students and as we know, this is huge undertaking. If we build trust among our students and ourselves, we instill the importance of being ourselves, in both the good and the bad moments. By teaching and showing students that it is okay to vulnerable and take risks, we are providing them with the academic safety they deserve. This can lead to empowering them to achieve to their highest potential and lead to better life long outcomes. What are you willing to try this month to build academic safety in your classroom?
This post brought to you by Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associate and STEM Village Director
The memory is vivid. I was sitting on my couch, color drained from my face, flanked by two sleeping dogs unaffected by the gravity of this news I was trying to absorb.
What? No way.
I mean...I guess I can be stubborn. I do believe very much in the unlimited strength of women.
And I am loyal to my family….
I would have been fine with Jon Snow. I would have been ecstatic with Samwell Tarly. I too appreciate devouring books and good food. What about Brienne of Tarth? There wasn’t a height question, was there?
It wasn’t like I was expecting Sansa, or even Arya (hoping, yes). But Cersei?
As time passed, I started seeing the potential in this new reality.
I settled in, prepare to accelerate through the acceptance stage. Ten minutes and three retakes later, I finally got Jon Snow. Fine. I can live with that. And die. And then live with it again.
Except now it all felt like a fraud--I didn’t feel comfortable cheating my way to a Jon Snow, which I might argue was an ethical emotion rarely exhibited by Cersei.
Naturally, this is just a silly online personality quiz that means nothing.
I should call my friends and see what they got; maybe everyone gets Cersei the first few times--just to mess with us.
I realize this is a long time to wrestle with such a ridiculous (and clearly unfounded) quest to better know the inner cobwebs of my personality. I also realize that few of you may openly admit to taking these pointless personality quizzes. I myself have taken only a handful (Ross Gellar, both Stevie Budd and David Rose, Pam Beesly, Samantha Baker, the music of U2, and apparently I should be living in either San Francisco or Germany), as I find them fodder for self-reflection. Of course, there are other, more scientific, sources of self-reflection: INFP/Mediator (Myers-Briggs) & Individualist/Peacemaker (Enneagram).
The world is rife with opportunities to learn and reflect upon various aspects of our personalities. And perhaps I might be taking Simon Sinek's advice of “Knowing Your Why?” a bit too seriously. However, I might argue the Delphic Oracle was on to something with “Know Thyself” -- though I’m clearly choosing to ignore the “Nothing in Excess” suggestion.
It is hard to ignore, however, that educators are in a position of influence. Deeply understanding why I continuously choose this role and identifying how my values are visible in my classroom or work space have a considerable impact on the community I’m creating and the lives I’m influencing. One might argue that the most important work we can do is best understanding our own decisions about, actions within, and reactions to the world around us. These practices have a place and impact in our classrooms and work spaces.
a. 15 Reflection Strategies to Help Students Retain What You Just Taught Them
b. The Most Important Question Every Assessment Should Answer
While we are facilitating the learning of our students this year (no small feat), I hope you will join me in taking silly and serious opportunities to self-reflect and to guide students in their own self-reflection
This post brought to you by Stefanie Whitney, Secondary Implementation Associate
One of my favorite parts of back to school week is always hearing about the learning people did over the summer. I was fortunate to be able to facilitate the Science Edcamp and there was lots of interest in the topic of grading for learning. Invariably teachers were most interested to learn from their colleagues about things they had tried. As a district, we have decided that this year should be a learning year for our grading for learning principles and that they will be fully implemented next school year.
Consider how you might best use this learning year to be ready for next year’s implementation:
As you plan how to use this learning year consider how you hope your students respond when given a challenge in your classroom. Ask questions, collaborate, and engage in deep thinking about how these changes could improve learning for your students.
This post brought to you by Heather Willman, POSA overseeing Secondary Curriculum, Instructional Coaching, & Staff Development
Whew! What a year! If the past 9 months have taught me anything, it’s that so many of you out there are fiercely dedicated to your students and are passionate about creating more equitable classroom environments. My soul has been consistently kept afloat by the thoughtful conversations about equity that I have had with so many of our district’s teachers, support staff, administrators, and students. So many of you have come to me with quiet admissions that you aren’t sure where to start or how to possibly fix all that needs fixing. In solidarity, I’ve celebrated with you and shared heavy sighs of overwhelm with you because we know that the work of equity is never done. There are many days when the work feels intensely lonely and heavy but I’ve been so lucky to find amazing humans across the district (I hope you all know who you are), and across the world, to keep me going when the work gets tough. In this blog post, I want to introduce you to some resources that I have found to be fountains of information and support.
This is my current favorite! This is an awesome follow for very real conversations about the power of educators to create more equitable learning spaces. There is even a website to check out.
Val Brown is one of the founders of Clear the Air and she is amazing! I had the privilege of learning from her last fall at a Teaching Tolerance workshop and her passion and humor lift me up every time!
Speaking of Teaching Tolerance, it has been one of my go-to resources for years. They have lesson plans, articles, and all sorts of amazing resources.
Rethinking Schools is another resource that I have used for years! They publish books, produce films, and put out a magazine that is full of articles that have helped me rethink so many aspects of educational equity over the years.
Zaretta Hammond has really deepened my understanding of culturally responsive teaching this year. In her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, she uses research on brain science to help us understand the power culture has on learning. Her work has helped me think even more deeply about how to leverage culture to increase student engagement.
Dr. Adrienne Keene is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and an Assistant Professor at Brown University. She writes an amazing blog called, Native Appropriations, in which she talks about stereotypes of Native peoples. I can't even begin to list all the things I've learned by following her! She has really opened up my eyes to so many of the myths I've been told about Indigenous Americans and has helped me rethink the way we teach much of our American Indian curriculum.
And as always, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning is a wonderful resource! Dr. Sharroky Hollie can always fire me up! I have met so many amazing people through his work and if you aren’t following him yet, do so. He is always sharing stories of teachers from across the country (including many of our very own RPS teachers) who are on their responsiveness journey-assuring us that we are not alone in this work!
There are so many more that I love, and even more amazing folks out there whom I haven’t learned of/from yet. If you have any other folks you like to follow on Twitter, let me know so I can keep learning, too! Remember, the work of educational equity is hard, but we don’t need to do it alone. Let’s keep working together to do better for all of our students and families.
I hope you all have a wonderful summer and I look forward to continuing our equity journey next year!
This post brought to you by Kim Eversman, E-12 Equity Implementation Associate
One way to look back on your year is to ask yourself some questions about how the year went. George Couros, author of “The Innovator’s Mindset” and speaker we have had at RPS, invites teachers in his blog, The Principal of Change, to reflect on 4 questions. The questions range from “What did I do well this year?” to “How will all of these answers impact the learners I serve?”
4 Reflection Questions for the End of the School Year
Another resource, entitled “End of Year Reflection for Teachers,” by Jennifer Findley focuses on 8 questions to reflect on to help you grow and perfect your craft.
End of Year Reflection for Teachers
I know that by the end of May/beginning of June, I am tired and need time to reflect on what went well during the past year, what I want to keep and what I want to change. I know that if I don’t reflect on the year as soon as the year ends, the memory of what I did gets fuzzier.
Another approach is to think about what is currently happening around you and be present. This means doing things with family and friends, sitting on the patio, or just enjoying what is around you. It is also a time to continue PD but on a much more relaxed schedule.
Here are a couple of PD opportunities for you this summer:
1) Pages on the Patio (Rochester, Dover-Eyota and Byron school districts)
2) PD by the Pool: This is a great PD experience to do over the summer as you have time. Here is the link if you are not from Rochester Public Schools: PD by the Pool - Non RPS and if you are in the Rochester Public Schools: PD by the Pool - RPS
As July ends and August begins, I start to think about (and dream about) the upcoming school year. I spend time looking out the windshield to see what is coming up on the horizon. I see new projects starting to take form in my mind that I want to try in the new school year. I see reconnecting with my colleagues and making new connections with incoming students. I also see this as a time I can learn new things since I am more recharged. One great PD offering that is close to home is the First Institute in Kasson. Rebecca Mecikalski wrote about this last year in the blog entitled “Put yourself 'First'.” This year the First Institute will be on August 5th and 6th and the lineup of keynote speakers include Tim Elmore, Michael McDowell, Marcia Tate, and Rick Wormeli.
I am not sure about you, but I am looking forward to my “reflective drive” this summer (and I am hoping to take some real drives out in the country, too). I hope you can all get out there and take some much deserved time to reflect on your year and recharge.
This post brought to you by Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associate and STEM Village Director
We are in the midst of the crazy race to the finish of the year. Managing report cards, creating engaging lessons, planning field trips, end of year activities...the list could go on and on.
Yet, no matter what, in a few short weeks, many of us will begin our summer break.
As the school year comes to a close, it is the time of year in the cycle of teaching when we begin to reflect on the past year and make summer plans. One might think these are two separate tasks, yet often times these go hand in hand. Our chosen profession is relatively unique in that many of us have an end, a break, and then a new opportunity for a fresh start every year.
Below you will find a few articles that might help you embrace these three stages:
Hopefully, these resources will help you finish the school year strong, dive into summer, and start fresh again in the fall.
This post brought to you by Ann Miller, K-8 Math Specialist, along with
Heather Lyke and Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associates
As the school year draws to a close I am hearing many conversations about continued summer learning. Some people are planning to attend conferences, others are planning to keep learning by traveling, and still others are collecting titles for podcasts and other articles they want to read. Another popular topic has been doing some additional reading and learning about grading for learning. Here are seven ideas for growing your grading for learning mindset:
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