Tuesday, January 21, 2014

10 Slogans Not Meant for Education - But Could Be

Like many other parents this Christmas, my children (ages 10 and 13) wished for and received “techie” gifts.  While shopping one day I stumbled upon a board game, yes they still make them, called the Logo Game.  I have seen both my sons play with a similar app on their devices so I thought it would be fun.  It turns out I was right, and playing it as a family has been a big hit.  The premise is pretty simply, there are questions that test your knowledge of well known products, logos, and slogans as you move your pieces around the board.  The more we played, the more I was reminded of memorable catchphrases of days gone by as well as those that have endured the test of time. 

Since I often have a hard time turning off my “inner teacher”, I began to think about what I value and what I try to promote both in myself and my students. With every question card I started to play a game within the game.  Which popular slogans could crossover and promote educational beliefs?  The result was this week’s top ten list.

  • Risk Taking -“Just do it!”
  • Creativity -“Imagination at work”
  • Growth Mindset -“Your potential, your passion”
  • Relationships -“Always there for you”
  • Data Informed -“Don’t leave home without it”
  • Self Reflection -“Try it, you’ll like it”
  • Problem Solving - “Think different”
  • Collaboration - “Let’s build something together”
  • Communication - “Can you hear me now?”
  • Feedback - “Quality never goes out of style”

Monday, January 13, 2014

How can you make self reflection part of your day? Like this...

I have written previous posts about the important role that self reflection plays in improving one’s own teaching practice.  I have given examples of questions that when contemplated thoughtfully might inspire action or lead to new ways of thinking (Reflective Questions for Consideration and Reflective Questions: Summer Edition). The focus of this entry however is on the process itself.   Self reflection can take on many shapes and forms but in order to truly make an impact, it has to happen consistently.  Here are 10 examples of self reflective practices I have seen teachers use.

  • Collaborative planning times or grade level meetings often end in what feels like a blink of an eye. Keeping the first or last 5 minutes sacred to capture a thought will add up to meaningful reflection over time.

  • Having a formal or informal reflection buddy offers many benefits. A professional relationship based on a mutual commitment to improving practice will have implications beyond the two participants.

  • In addition to modeling a lifelong learning skill, involving students in the reflection process provides you with more information when making future instructional decisions.

  • Twitter gives educators the opportunity to create a record of reflections 140 characters at a time.  Furthermore you will receive support and resources from other professionals who have had similar experiences.

  • A reflection jar placed on your desk is always there when you need it.  For more information on this strategy, visit writesolutions.org.

  • This blog is an example of a self reflective practice that only a year ago I wouldn't have even considered.  You might even want to try something like taking the Self Initiated Blogging Challenge.

  • Take advantage of whatever evaluation protocols your district has. Most models include self reflection as part of the process but even if they don't, make it part of your own.

  • Many teachers shudder at the idea of recording themselves teaching, but it is perhaps the most effective way to analyze what you and how you do it. 

  • Capture meaningful moments, student work, lessons, and ideas by taking quick pictures.  Go through them weekly and bring yourself back to that place and time.   

  • Ask a colleague to observe your classroom and follow it up with a frank discussion about the visit.  For more on this read Reasons to Observe a Colleague.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's OK to laugh...and other acceptable behaviors

  • It’s OK to laugh with your students
  • It’s OK to say “I don’t know”
  • It’s OK to tweak your delivery of content
  • It’s OK to have high expectations
  • It’s OK to share resources with colleagues
  • It’s OK to tell your students you care about them
  • It’s OK to seek support from administration
  • It’s OK to say “no”
  • It’s OK to allow students to get to know you
  • It’s OK to be observed by colleagues