Over the past 3 years or so I have been focusing on developing my #PLN which stands for both professional learning network and personal learning network. How you use your #PLN is up to you! I have learned that along with reading books, articles, and attending professional conferences that I need two other forms of professional learning. The first is daily doses of professional learning from Twitter and Voxer. The second is more sustained professional learning conversations with fellow educators.
Do you seek professional learning on a daily basis?
Twitter is my go to place to connect with educators and see what thought leaders have to share regarding the world of education. If you are looking for some education minded tweeps to follow please leave a comment below and I will be happy to send you several outstanding names. All of these educators will share differing thoughts, opinions, ideas, learning strategies, and so much more that will really push your thinking.
Voxer has been gaining momentum in education circles recently because educators are learning their connections with others can go into more of a conversational realm through the use of technology. I am a part of three different conversations on Voxer that all push my thinking in different ways. One conversation is a world wide group that brings in so many different thoughts, opinions, struggles, ideas, and successes around common themes discussed on a weekly basis. A second conversation I am a part of is with a local group of educators. In this group we discuss and share what is occurring on a more local level as well as encourage, support, and celebrate our day to day work. The third conversation I am a part of is with a fellow principal in a neighboring district. We are learning from each other through our conversations and I have actually taken teachers to his school to see the excellent work he and his staff are doing for kids.
Voxer is way better than talk radio for your drive to and from campus.
Perhaps the greatest addition to my professional learning has been working on "The Visioning Document" through sessions lead by @N2Learning and with @TASANet.
To read more about the visioning document please click here.
In short the visioning document was written by a small group of Texas superintendents that saw a need to change the current direction of public education in Texas. The thinking, conversations, and outcomes from this type of work are extremely powerful!
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the conversation since becoming a principal and it has really shifted my thinking as to what we should be doing in our schools. I have connected with many different education thought leaders from across Texas and I have learned so much from being in the room with those leaders. The thinking and learning I have done with these educators has shaped the work I do at my campus and in my district.
I challenge all educators, regardless of position, to really be intentional in your own professional learning. Find your longer view professional learning options AND find your day to day professional learning options. You will be amazed at how this shift in personal learning will change you and your daily work.
I will be more than willing and happy to help you learn more about anything posted here. Just leave me a comment below!
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
Earlier this week I was visited by my math department head. She wanted to run some things by me to either get my opinion or approval. We discussed the items that she brought to me and after the discussion I asked her one of my favorite questions.
"So how's it going?"
She began to share with me her risk taking adventure in her math classes. For those of you that know me, I encourage my teachers to take risks in their instructional practice every chance I get. The reason for this is to let my teachers know that I am okay with them mixing things up, changing how they have always taught to how they would want to be taught, to look at their lessons from the eyes of their students and ask themselves, "would I want to be a student for this lesson?"
Her risk taking venture has been utilizing the app Explain Everything to provide her students the opportunity to go back as often as they need to hear her working through the problem, step by step, as she went around the room to work with individual students.
As I sat and listened to her talk about her experiences, struggles, student success, and changes in student engagement and learning I felt very proud of her for taking a risk. These moments are the moments that I enjoy as a principal. We had a great conversation about what she has learned and where this can lead her and the math department with regards to how to improve student learning and support. It was very exciting for both of us!
If I had not asked her how it was going I would not have had this great conversation. Regardless of being a teacher or an administrator, I encourage you to always take the time to ask how it's going as a part of your conversations with your stakeholders. The best conversation you have may be the one that almost didn't happen.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
"The best conversation you have may be the one that almost didn't happen."
Today my 8th grade ELA teachers, 8th grade assistant principal, district ELA director, district math director and myself went on a journey. A few weeks ago I read this blog post from Mark McCord (@MarkMccord10) Principal of Katy Morton Ranch Jr. High School in Katy, Texas. After reading Mark's post I could not stop thinking about what he discussed in the area of TEKS based proficiency scales and how this guided the conferring sessions between teacher and students during Readers & Writers Workshop.
Mark and I have both been fortunate enough to be a part of the Texas Principals Vision Institute #TXPVI as well as connected through Twitter and attended the first @EdCampKatytx earlier this school year. I reached out to Mark on @Voxer and before too long we were able to set a date for my teachers and I to visit his campus to see their Readers & Writers workshop in action.
We were fortunate enough to see his Rockstar ELA teachers work Readers and Writers Workshop like the pros they are! 8th grade students were reading texts of choice, completing quick writes, discussing topics, and refining their skills with simple, compound, and complex sentences all in 45 minute class periods!! Teachers were conferencing with students purposefully because their TEKS based proficiency scales guided their conversations with students.
The real power of our visit came with the conversation we had with Mark and his teaching staff during their PLC time. In the conversations Mark and his staff shared the success and struggles they have experienced in their journey with transforming their instructional practices. The take home message was the process is the key. It will take the teachers spending time working through the curriculum while having instructional based conversations to shape the outcome needed for student success.
The outcome is having teachers that are well versed in their curriculum and a teaching tool that is tailored to the needs of the students they serve daily.
When I say that our team left his school energized I mean we left his school energized! The thinking, ideas, and conversation were non stop.
So I am sure you are wondering where all of this is going...
I am sharing this because all of this happened due to the power of connecting with other educators. We live in an increasingly smaller world. We are all connected in one way or another, even when we do not realize it. When you do see an opportunity to connect I encourage you to take full advantage of connecting. There is so much to learn from one another if we just take the time.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
Over the last two days I have been fortunate enough to learn from and along side some outstanding leaders who are not only sharing their experiences but also listening to the story of others. I am currently in Austin, TX -- #ATX -- attending the Texas Computer Educators Association (TCEA) annual conference with 14,000+ other educators. My brain is so full it hurts, but in a good way.
I was fortunate enough to witness the caring heart of Angela Maiers --@AngelaMaiers -- as she reminded us of the importance of relationships with everyone in our school communities.... and everyone in our lives for that matter. Her message is passionate, uplifting and motivational. Angela displayed the power of student voice to the groups that cycled through the digital square during #TCEA16.
Todd Nesloney -- @TechNinjaTodd -- shared with the crowd the work he has done with the community of Navasota, TX to improve the morale and culture of the entire school community. The outreach he and his staff are doing is tremendous. Relationships are at the very core of his work with all of his students, staff, and community.
After hearing from Todd I was able to learn from George Courous -- @gcouros. What was at the hear of his message you ask? Relationships. He encourages you to have an innovators mindset but it all boils down to relationships for him as well.
As educators we are in the people business, period. In the end as educators we must always remember that our relationships make the difference in the success of a child, not their grades. In 20 years after graduation people do not talk about the grades they earned in school as much as how they felt when they were in school. Think about it. I bet you can recall how specific teachers made you feel easier and quicker than you can recall the grades you made in their classes.
How do you make students feel? Would you want to be your teacher?
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
7th & 8th Grade
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are
Images & Quotes that Inspire