Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Daring Greatly - Chapter 5 - Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide

Welcome back for another week of Daring Greatly by Brene´ Brown. Thanks to Colleen at Literacy Loving Gals for kicking off the book study, and to Michelle at Big Time Literacy, Samantha at Leadership Lessons 101 and Amy at Grammar Mamma for covering Chapters 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Click on any or all of the links to catch up. The link up for all the posts will be stored at Literacy Loving Gals. 

Chapter 5, Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide. This short chapter sets the stage for the last two chapters in the book.  

pg 173

The chapter starts out with the debate between strategy vs culture. Strategy is about the goals we want to accomplish and culture is "the way that we do things around here." Brown makes the argument that culture is more important and is "a critically relevant discussion for organizations" (p 174). She goes over 10 questions that can tell someone a lot about the culture of an organization. The questions are meant to illustrate the disconnection and disengagement between what we say and what we do, the space between what we we're actually doing, thinking and feeling and what we WANT to do, think and feel. This space is the disengagement divide. Brown argues that the greater the disconnect the more dehumanizing the culture. The greater the divide the harder it is to navigate an organization (business, family, religion, political organization). Brown gives powerful examples of the divide in politics and religion. She also gives examples of the disengagement divide within a family. The examples make me think of 2 idioms in particular. Practice what you preach, especially around your children because they are always watching. The other is, actions speak louder than words. I won't share Brown's examples. You should definitely read this book!  The best one that I can think of that I deal with as a "tech" coach on a regular basis is digital leadership as it pertains to fair use and copyrighted images from the web in staff and student work. Many teachers let students use any images from the web that they find for their assignments. I've seen pictures with water marks on them being used. This is clearly a violation of copyright laws. I try to impress upon teachers that this goes against everything we should be teaching students. We teach our students that theft, taking something from someone else without permission or payment is a crime. We wouldn't let our students steal from a gift shop on a field trip, and we shouldn't let them steal images from the web. A person worked hard to create that original work. Their creativity and individualism should be valued. We had an incident a few years ago where a parent of one of our 7th graders had to get a lawyer because and artist was threatening legal action because the child used an image in his work without permission from the artist. This example is an illustration of aspirational values vs practiced values.  "If our practiced values are in constant conflict with the expectation we set for our culture, disengagement is inevitable" (p 180). Students disengage from school when things like this are repeatedly done. Minding the gap between what we say and what we do is another example of daring greatly. Ask yourself as a school or teacher leader - Am I practicing the values that I hold out as an example of the culture of my school? 
This chapter sets the stage for the last two chapters. I can't wait to see what Leah at Responsive Literacy and Kristin at Reading and Owl of the Above have to say about chapters 6 and 7. 

I will leave you with this quote, "We don't have to be perfect, just engaged and committed to aligning values with actions" (p182). 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Ditch That Textbook - Chapters 5 - 9 #D100BloggerPD

#D100BloggerPD is a group of teachers and administrators in Berwyn South School District 100 in suburban Chicago who like to blog and Tweet. "We devote ourselves to staying globally connected. The crew embraces change, strives to better themselves professionally and desires to join forces with others to share what we learn because ...together we are better!"

Thanks for the introduction ColleenNoffsinger @LitLovgal1 on Twitter. 

If you've never read my blog before - Thanks for stopping by! Just a bit about me. I've been an educator for 28 years. I enjoy coaching teachers in order to improve student outcomes and enhance teaching and learning. I'm always pushing teachers to try new things and get outside their comfort zone. That's where the learning takes place for teachers and students!

Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller is an easy read with so many practical ideas for those starting out and great reminders for those of us who have been at it for a while. Ditch That Textbook is partially a true suggestion and partially a metaphor for - let go of that Industrial Revolution mentality that exists in our schools. The Industrial Revolution is over and the mentality that goes with it needs to disappear in our schools. I believe this book was written to be read cover to cover, but could also be used as reference material.

Section 1 - Why Go Digital?
Chapter 5 - Reinvent Education
All of us that are part of this book study, #D100BloggerPD, are lucky enough to work in a district that has been reinventing education since 2009! We have been 100% 1:1 with Macbooks and/or iPads since August 2012. 

We are a model district in Suburban Chicago. Over the last 6 years we have hosted site visits for over 2,000 teachers, administrators, school board members, business people and state officials. They come from approximately 150 school districts and business, 20 states and 4 countries. They all come to see how we facilitate teaching and learning with our students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

For us it was not just about bringing in the devices. In Berwyn South we changed many things:
  • Teams of teachers were given at least one 70 minute block of common planning time each week. 
  • We made professional development a priority before, during and after school. Staff meetings became PD opportunities not housekeeping sessions. 
  • We hired Instructional Coaches
  • We phased out traditional grades and brought in standards-based reporting.
  • We dumped the desks and got tables, which then led to flexible seating areas
  • We changed to fitness based P.E. especially in our middle schools
  • We overhauled the food in our lunchrooms, no more soda or juice machines, no more chocolate milk. 
  • We focused on the positive benefits of student attendance with our families. 

In fact, I would argue that bringing the devices into the classroom of a teacher who is not willing to grow in his/her teaching practice only magnifies that problem. A growth mindset or fail forward mentality is a must in order to effect change. 

If you are not lucky enough to work in a progressive district there are little things that you can do to make changes in your classroom. I would encourage you to get on Twitter if you aren't already (have you been living under a rock for the last 8 year?) and follow educators who are blazing trails in many different areas of education. If you don't know who to follow. This list is 2 years old, but has some amazing educators on it. Start with your state! Keith O'Neil's 50 States in 50 days #eduFollowChallenge - Follow 100 Educators in Each State

Chapter 6 - We Are No Longer The Gatekeepers
The devices give our students the ability to have all the information and experts in the world at their fingertips. Teachers are no longer the sole source of knowledge. Teachers should be the "guide on the side, not the sage on the stage." In our district believe - the one doing the talking is the one doing the learning. The amount of student talk in the classroom should be greater than the amount of teacher talk. That's why as a coaching department we often do time studies on teachers showing them how much direct instruction, group work and independent work is going on in their classroom. This way they can make changes to their instruction to increase student talk. 
With the sheer volume of information that exists these days, there is no way that one person can be the expert in everything. This was once the case in the classroom. You must relinquish some of that control. Learn one app or program and do it well with your students once you have it mastered move on to another. If there is something you don't know or understand chances are your students, even if they are first graders can help you. Miller talks about using YouTube in the classroom. If you are just starting out using devices with students, YouTube to engage your students is great. I once learned how to fix the wiring in my bathroom fan with a YouTube video. 
In Berwyn South we want our students to create their own content to demonstrate their thinking and understanding of a particular skill or standard. 
I CHALLENGE YOU TO HAVE YOUR STUDENTS CREATE THEIR OWN CONTENT to demonstrate their thinking and understanding.
You don't have to post to YouTube, but you need to have students creating blogs, websites, epubs, podcasts etc.

Chapter 7 -  Real World Skills
Miller makes the point that there are 10 skills that all students should have: 
  1. Adding value 
  2. Creating content online
  3. Continuously listening and watching for new ideas
  4. Glamorizing hard work
  5. Turning wasted time to productive time 
  6. Cultivating relationships 
  7. Being financially responsible 
  8. Staying on the cutting edge 
  9. Maintaining the balance between professionalism and being a real person
  10. Becoming a twenty-four-hour worker
I'll let you read this chapter to see what his suggestions are in these areas! Before you read what Matt Miller says - ask yourself - What do they mean to me in my classroom with my students?

Section 2 - Ditch That Mindset 
This quote really stood out to me. Many of the teachers that I have worked with say that the more control that they give up in their classroom the more joy they get from their students! Is there any teacher that doesn't want that to happen?
p 45

Chapter 8 - Make It Personal
Make students the stars of your lesson. Use their names and experiences to personalize the content that you present in the classroom. An example would be to liken a conflict in a book to a real-life experience that students might have had. Miller says that asking students relevant questions and using questioning techniques to connect the content through real-life experiences will help them make better sense of the content. I would argue that this also helps build relationships with your students. Students see you as more than just the purveyor of knowledge and the authoritarian in the room. They will begin to see you as a real person who "gets" them.  

Chapter 9 - Fun and Magic
This a great section for me to end with. Once when my former team of five members was being introduced at a professional development session each of the members was introduced with their particular area of expertise, Apple, Google etc. I was last and I was introduced as the Fun One! Maybe it was a knock on me, I'm actually still not sure. I took it to mean that I am a jack of all trades master of none and relished being called the Fun One. Be the Fun One in your classroom. Learning can still happen if you embrace this persona. 

Ask yourself if you had a choice would you be a student in your own classroom? Kids are naturally curious so don't stifle that use it to your advantage. Create experiences not just lessons! Again there are plenty of ideas out there on Twitter and another great resource is - Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess!

Next up is Literacy Coach LeeAnne Layden over at Word Detectives. Click here for the all the links to the #D100BloggerPD Ditch That Textbook blog posts!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

#D100bloggerPD's Book Study on Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily, Hacks 16 - 20

#D100BloggerPD is a group of teachers and administrators in Berwyn South District 100 in suburban Chicago who like to blog and Tweet. "We devote ourselves to staying globally connected. The crew embraces change, strives to better themselves professionally and desires to join forces with others to share what we learn because...together we are better!"
Footnote created in EasyBib - Noffsinger, Colleen. “#D100bloggerPD's Book Study on Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily, Hacks 1-5 .” Literacy Loving Gals, Colleen Noffsinger, 19 Oct. 2017, literacylovinggals.blogspot.com/2017/10/d100bloggerpds-book-study-on-hacking.html


Thanks to Sue Butler (@sbutlerbsd100 on Twitter) for her post on Hacks 11 - 15. 

I'm so glad that I decided to participate in this round of #D100BloggerPD. This book is quick and easy to read. Each section is only 2 to 4 pages long. Sturtetvant (@jamessturtevant on Twitter) makes it easy by dividing each section up by - The Problem, The Hack, and What You Can Do Tomorrow. I think every teacher loves when you can take something you just learned and apply it the next day. I also like it because it offers real solutions that are both offline and online. I have a few of the other #HackLearning books. They all uniquely belong to the author, but have that same easy to read and implement format.

Hack 16
Break the Ice Ice Baby
The Problem: Your Students are Cliquey

When you go to a conference and the presenter asks you to form groups with people that you don't know you usually dread it. Why do they ask you to do it? They are modeling what we should be doing with kids. Ice Breakers work and they are valuable to helping create a positive classroom culture. Many times we assume that students know each other because they are in the same class. That may be true for the students in your class that are future teachers, but not for others. In talking with my own teenage boys I realize that unless they are forced to interact with other students in their class they hardly know that they are there. You want kids to feel comfortable and secure in your room. Sturtevant say, "If teachers don't use icebreakers, they're missing a golden opportunity to help kids bond.”

The Hack: Make a Living Movie Marquee

  1. Kids write down their all time favorite movie
  2. Have them look up the year the movie debuted and any other pertinent information.
  3. Have them create a marquee with images, slogans and phrases connected to the movie. This can be an offline or digital representation. You may have to define the word marquee for students.

  4. Have students arrange themselves, in the hall, in order of when the movies debuted - a timeline if you will. Let them problem solve if there is more than 1 movie from the same year.   
  5. Have them step forward 1 by 1, turn and face their peers to present about their movie. 
    1. Name of the movie
    2.  Year it debuted 
    3. Describe images/slogans 
    4. Why you like it

What You Can Do Tomorrow
  • Introduce your own marquee
  • Challenge students to make their marquees
  • Create a new seating chart
  • Find more ice breakers

Hack 17
Collaborate Globally with Voxer
The Problem: Disengaged Teachers Can't Engage Students

We all go through our ups and downs in teaching. We need to keep teaching fresh, and it’s awfully hard to do that in isolation. Most educators are on Twitter and if they're not they've at least heard of it. Voxer, a less know app, is another way to break down the four walls of your classroom. Mark Barnes says, “Teachers should use Voxer to build their tribe.” I say, "Find people, like minded or not, who will push your thinking!”

The Hack: Find a supportive Voxer group you can join

Voxer is an iOS or Android app which is free, that combines the best of live voice, text, photos, and videos with end to end encryption. I was able to leverage my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter to find a list of education related Voxer groups. Thanks to my friend Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateecher on Twitter) for her help on this one. Visit the Ed Squad Website for a list of 60+ groups. You can also add to the list if you have a group that you would like to share. 

Thorne, Pierce, Towner, Garrett, Thomas - Summer 2015

What You Can Do Tomorrow
    •    Sign up for a FREE Voxer account
    •    Join a Voxer group (see above)
    •    Start your own Voxer group 

Voxer is a very versatile app. Go to their blog and type in education for more articles on using Voxer.

Hack 18
Build an Extensive Student Support Network
Problem: Students are Intimidated by Academic Challenges

Students sometimes struggle with the challenges they face. It is counterproductive to let them struggle in isolation. They will just shut down.

Hack: Escalate Your Availability and Build a Student Support Network
Elevate your students by being available outside of class time. Since you have to balance work and school. Make sure students can collaborate with each other when you are not available. 

What You Can Do Tomorrow 
  • Create office hours when you'll be available to help students 
  • Advertise your availability 
  • Create virtual office hours - using your school LMS, Remind, or other virtual tool 
  • Create a peer tutoring Voxer group - if your students are over 13 y/o

Hack 19
Present for Ten, Then Collaborate for Ten
Problem: Teachers Talk Too Much

Teachers tend to over explain sometimes, to the point of turning students off. Also some teachers don't take the visual or non verbal cues from students - like falling asleep in their chairs. This is an exaggeration, but I know I've wanted to do it from time to time at lectures or conferences.
Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDeWitt on Twitter) asks teachers four questions:

  1. Do you control the conversation?
  2. Do students ask questions?
  3. Are they allowed - even encouraged - to have conversations with one another?
  4. Or do they sit as you talk?
How would you answer these four questions? 

The Hack: Lower Teacher Volume and Amplify Student Voice
The hack here is two-fold. The first is to limit teacher talk. The suggestion from Sturtevant is for the teacher to talk for 10 minutes and then for the teacher and/or class to do something different. The second part is to encourage and amplify student collaboration. He suggest setting up "the agora" in the middle of your classroom. I'm not going to explain. I'm going to let you Google it or buy the book. 

What You Can Do Tomorrow 

  • Comb Through Your Lesson
  • Decide what students can take charge of themselves
  • Practice the Clear the Deck maneuver
  • Practice the Listen to Me with Your Face maneuver.
  • Clear the center of the room to create the agora. 

Hack 20
Ride the Podcast Tide
The Problem: It's Difficult to Find Great Guest Speakers

Students get a lot out of hearing a guest speaker or expert, but they are not always easy to find especially depending on where you are located. 

The Hack: Pan for Podcasting Gold, Then Refine Your Treasure

With the increase in podcasting you should be able to find someone to meet the needs of your class. If you're not in a 1:1 school district you can dial one up on your phone or tablet. The two most popular distribution sites (which is different from hosting sites) are iTunes/ Apple Podcasts and Google Music Play Podcast Portal. Age restrictions may apply, so make sure you do your homework. 

What You Can Do Tomorrow 
  • Give students Prime the Pump prompts
  • Fill out a Somebody wanted but so then template (Google it)
  • Complete a character web
  • Play Jeopardy

As an Instructional Coach I don't have a classroom, but I'm eager to try out a few of these hacks and some of the others in this book with the teachers that I'm currently coaching! Thanks you James Sturtevant for such an awesome book!

Next up with hacks 21 to 25 is Amy Gorzkowski at Grammar Mamma.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

START. RIGHT. NOW. Grow Each Day

This is the 2nd installment of the #D100BloggerPD book study for today. Make sure you read the post from +Lauren Slanker at Ms Frizzle IRL. 

If you need to catch up, here are the links for chapters 1- 4. 
Chapter 1 - Teaching is Leading, Leading is Teaching at Reading and Owl of the Above
Chapter 2 - Know the Way at Teaching and Learning Redefined
Chapter 3 - Show the Way Part 1 at iShift
Chapter 3 - Show the Way Part 2 at iLearn
Chapter 4 - Go the Way - Part 1 at Grammar Mamma
Chapter 4 - Go the Way - Part 2 at Show Your Thinking 

I have really enjoyed reading this book. It has forced me to be reflective about what I do well and what traits I need to work on to become a better leader.  Nobody's perfect, there's always room for improvement. One of the biggest reminders for me was the section - Know When to Say No. I need to work on that. I know the pitfalls of saying yes all the time but I do it anyway. I've started saying no sometimes. Part of my problem is I don't want to miss an opportunity to learn and grow.

I also enjoyed reading the educator profiles from each section of the book. I'm lucky to know 3 of these incredible people personally. +Maureen Chertow Miller is very involved in our Illinois network of ed tech educators and has always been supportive of all my efforts. +Kara Welty is no longer a teacher leader. She will be a building leader at Rockwood South Middle School as the assistant principal. I'm so proud of Kara. She has worked so hard to build relationships and get to this point. Check out Kara's blog. Finally, +Kayla Delzer is an amazing educator. I had only known Kayla as part of my P2LN until she came to Chicago one day last summer and we hung out together for part of the day. It is so great when you meet members of your virtual P2LN. An additional bonus is when it is confirmed to you by meeting them in person that you are both "on the same page". Kayla's blog Top Dog Teaching has a lot of resources. Being highlighted in this book as influential school leaders is no surprise to me!

Now on with the book review. Chapter 5 is entitled, Grow Each Day. This is the section where the authors discuss growth mindset, who you surround yourself with and the power of feedback. 

Run the Experiment. Reflect. Repeat.
This section is about being bold and daring and trying something new in your classroom or school. As an instructional coach this is what I do daily. I push teachers and sometimes building leaders to go outside their comfort zone in order to grow. It's about taking calculated risks and reflecting on the success or lack there of. It's ok if a lesson doesn't go as you planned. REFLECT! Do you totally scrap the idea, sometimes the answer is yes, but most times the answer is take the best parts and retool the lesson till it works. As a classroom teacher I was always tried to be honest with my students when things weren't working as I planned. There were quite a few times where I would interrupt the lesson and just tell them we were changing something or starting over. I also remember during my first year as a classroom teacher almost every student did poorly on a particular unit test. Instead of complaining that the students weren't paying attention or the material was too hard I wrote the parents a letter. In that letter I said that I would be reteaching a portion of the material because clearly I didn't teach the material in a way that would help students be successful on the test. I was really taking a risk. I thought the parents were going to hate me. Instead the opposite was true. They were so happy that I was going to take the time to make sure their child knew the material. I know you don't teach to the test, but we are talking about 1994. My mindset has changed since then.

The authors' advice about change and trying something new is something that our coaching department tells our coachees all the time:
1. Start small
2. Try something new
3. Learn from your students

From my personal experience many teachers have the hardest time with number three. They think they must be the be all, end all in their classroom. With the explosion of information and technology skills that are available to our students their is no way any teacher can know it all. Our students are our greatest resource and we should utilize them any way we can to improve teaching and learning. 

Surround Yourself with Excellence
I love this! I feel that as part of the instructional coach team in my district I am surrounded by excellence. We are like minded people in the fact that we are passionate about wanting what is best for kids and always starting with the WHY? We all have different paths for getting there and bring so many different strengths to the table.

I'm so competitive that being surrounded by excellence drives me everyday to do better. In the past I've told my teammates when one of us fails we all fail, when one of us succeeds we all succeed. 

I love this quote from the book. How would you answer this job interview question? 
"Our goal is to hire someone so amazing that when we hire you, I'd rather the other teachers in the school become more like you than have you become more like the other teachers. Tell me something so amazing about you as a teacher that I would want every other teacher in our school to emulate?"

Breakfast of Champions  
"Regular feedback - much like breakfast - is a healthy way to grow." I have been told that I am good at telling the kind truth. Meaning that I am able to give constructive criticism in a way that is palatable. It is easy to look at others and give feedback. It can be more difficult to receive feedback from others. When I am told the kind truth it takes me awhile to process the information, but I am usually able to use it to help me grow and move on. "We firmly believe that providing and receiving clear feedback on a regular basis is not only an excellent strategy for improving performance, but also for instilling a sense of pride and satisfaction among those receiving the feedback. "

The other point brought up by Whitaker, Zoul and Casas is that teachers should be actively and regularly receiving feedback from students about their learning. Since our district does standards based reporting I feel like this is going on often in the classrooms in our district. What about your school or district? 

Teach 4, Lead 4, Learn 4
Check out these find educators who do what they can to Grow Each Day. Add them to your P2LN

1. Andrea Trudeau @Andrea_Trudeau
2. Starr Sackstein @mssackstein
3. Paul Solarz @PaulSolarz - I saw Paul speak pre - LLAP - he was very good!
4. Cindy Kube @cindyqb

1. Heidi Veal @VealHeidi
2. Barry Salde @Barrykid1
3. Sanee Bell @SaneeBell
4. Dennis Schug @schug_dennis

Steps you can do to Grow Each Day
1. Attend and Ed Camp professional learning event. Check - I've attend Ed Camp Chicago and Ed Camp Tampa Bay both well worth it!
Find one here
2. Participate in a Twitter Chat - Check - Love me a good Twitter chat! I have really found some amazing people to add to my P2LN through these chats. We have our own district chat #d100chat on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 8 pm CST. 
Find one here
3. Test your growth mindset - Check - Great stuff from Carol Dweck.
4. Watch One Second Every Day TED Talk and use the app. This one I still need to watch. While I have not tried the app yet, my teammates love it.

The final chapter will be reviewed by +Kristin Richey at Reading and Owl of the Above. Hope you enjoyed the book as much as I have! Thanks to Todd, Jeff and Jimmy for writing this book that helped me reflect and grow as a leader.