Well I guess I will put it out there: it is officially JULY. It is hard to believe that June has already flown by. So the obvious question is “How are you getting your Professional Development”? I can honestly say that this year had been a jam packed year. I have learned and implemented a lot of things for myself and for my campus. I felt like I was going non stop. However, I enjoyed every minute of it.
So, when the end of the school year came to a close I had a decision to make. What conference and professional developments were I going to participate in and attend. My mindset was making sure that I was keeping my brain active with reading and learning. However, I was taken back the fact that my program director said to take the time and rest. Our department is really not providing any PD during the summer. SAY WHAT! I was scratching my head and wondering why she said that. It was not until I had conversations with her and read her final blog for the school year that all became clear.
Our district is gearing up for some new and great things for the coming year and we will be working like never before. So we definitely need the rest. I also had to take a step back and look at how I and others provide PD. There is nothing wrong with what we do but looking at it from the outside I and some of my colleagues notice that when PD is given in the summer we rarely see the follow through during the school year. It's more about the number of hours than learning. Now don’t get me wrong we have to follow guidelines depending on what district you are in, but sometimes I know that when I present or attend conferences and workshops in the summer I can see the faces that are just there for the hours. You see them again the next summer and realize they may have not tried to implement anything from a conference or workshop. It’s crazy. The demands of school, life, and etc. may get in the way.
I have discovered that there is more of an impact when you provide other ways of getting PD. Face to face, online (like Google Hangouts), self-paced PD, and Twitter Chats are great ways to differentiate getting PD. Plus you want to provide PD during the school year within the workflow of your school environment. You want to make sure that can teachers implement you PD within the next couple of days, next week, or next lesson.
Now I try to attend some things whenever I can, but my main PD is resting and preparing every now and then throughout the summer. Without knowing it I made commitments during the new school year and realized that now I have a high school child (yes I am officially a high school parent OMG). I have seen her activity and academic schedule already and she is booked to capacity. I want to make sure that I am supportive of both my children in this new year coming up so planning is key.
This past week I had a lot of friends attend ISTE. I wanted to go really bad but being the parent of 2 teenagers I realized I wanted to keep them active and busy. Which means that that cost money! My daughter is preparing for colorguard this summer and my son has been going to band camps so my time is really busy making sure they are active. Since I couldn’t attend I decided to follow the Twitter feed #ISTE2016 to keep up with all the happenings. From the comforts of my bed, car (without driving of course), or couch I participated and viewed a lot of conversations that were going on. I made a lot of connections and learned new things such as creating hyperdocs and using Minecraft for Education. Participating in Voxer groups/chats such as #PasstheScopeEdu has challenged me to come up with goals for myself and my campus this year. Evening documenting my own learning this summer using my own hashtag (#edtechtinker) and storyfying my learning has helped me grow. All this from the comforts of my device.
Now people may ask, how can you this be documented with the number of hours? Honestly, I am not worried about that. Aside from planning my year in my calendar, I think what I am learning throughout the summer and throughout the year will reflect in my actions during the school year. That is what is most important. Not so much proving that you did x amount of hours or attended x amount of conferences, but what have you learned and implemented in your school or classroom that has made a difference in an innovative way. Have you grown from one year to the next? Do you see growth in your students from week to week and month to month. That is what is most important. This in turn should reflect how you are evaluated (if someone is looking for proof). So Educators….enjoy your summer and relax. Participate in webinars, twitter chats, and workshops every now and then but don’t try to rack up hours and not grow during the year. Show your growth during the year while your students are growing. Happy learning.
I can honestly say that I have had some great “A-Ha” moments this year. I have seen teachers embracing technology integration in their classrooms, to having students bring their own devices, and even having students and a teacher go paperless. All of these things are great but today was truly a #celebratemonday for me and my campus.
As most of you know Houston was hit pretty hard with tornadoes, bad weather, and floods. This lead to most districts including mine to have have more than a few days off of school. Because of this our school communication had pretty much come to a halt. We were all concerned with families, homes, and the conditions of our students and school. My principal, Mark Herndon, started his communication with me (through texting) about making an announcement to the staff in Remind that school was canceled. We started using Remind and Twitter on our campus this year which has helped connect our campus and parents. Each teacher also has their own class Remind. Herndon understood the power of reaching out to our own campus students and families before the district. Because of this my principal’s need to stay connected is growing.
I think that during this time he understood that we were not connecting to our computers, but our mobile devices were working. He connected the whole leadership team in a group text to talk about any important information about our school. Reminds were sent with updates about the condition of the campus and/or district. Through texting Herndon pretty much had a leadership team meeting which was awesome. We discussed small issues concerning our campus, scheduling, and attending the transfer/job fair. This lead to Herndon and myself discussing having a flipped faculty meeting.
Because of the weather we missed our meeting and we were trying to figure out when to have another one. Of course every meeting is important, but we were approaching having another faculty meeting to discuss other issues. Having to discuss past campus issues on top of new ones was unacceptable to us. I mentioned doing a flipped faculty meeting to cover the past topics. I didn’t think anything of it and thought that we would just have another faculty meeting. It was my principal that initiated the need to have one, and he made an announcement and sent an email about it, (including placing it in our weekly blog agenda) so it was time to move forward with it.
Our campus is not new to flipped meetings. I have done some flipped meetings with each department when there were technology updates for the campus or district. We have also done some with our previous principal as well. However, this time was different. There was a true need to have one and fast. Herndon was always curious as to how I did them, and I can honestly say that I learned it from 2 people; Steve Anderson (@web20classroom) and my program director Akilah Willery (@awillery). Flipped classrooms of course are all the rage, but faculty meetings are somewhat new. I truly believe that he was ready to do this because he understands my role and we both want to have an innovative campus.
No matter what principal I have been under, we always have talks about the direction of where our campus is going in content and integration. We both discuss each other's goals before, during, and after the school year. He wants to make sure that I am an integral part in the conversations, and he understands that the technology truly moves the campus. He knows that I am not a person who comes to “fix equipment". I am a person who tries to blend or integrate technology to each content area. He knows and admits that he doesn’t know everything, but he wants to take the time to learn and grow. That’s the beginning of an innovator.
Being new to flipping we discussed what we wanted to talk about and we developed the presentation using Google Slides and Docs. We went over what he was going to say and we just used his voice while the screen was recording. We edited parts we did not like (which we laughed and joked about) and we created a google form to make sure that the campus was accountable. They had to electronically sign saying that they looked at the video and read the slide. It was important to me that he help collaborate, lend his voice, email the information about the meeting, and send the video with the Google Slide. This way it was more authentic and that it came from him and not just the iTech. There is more power in someone learning and creating the product to share than just the iTech doing it. The announcement was made and within the hour half the campus viewed the 4 minute video and Google Slide. A faculty meeting that is usually an hour to an hour and 30 minutes was now reduced to a 4 minute video with a presentation that teachers can read at their leisure and be held accountable with a Google Form. To quote my principal “Why not do this? It just makes sense!” The staff truly loved it because it came from a leader learning how to do this for the first time and not an iTech. Teachers hope that we have more. He likes the fact that it is even archived so teachers can watch at anytime. I am so proud of my principal and his accomplishment today. Great job Mark Herndon; the beginning of an Innovative Principal.
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