I’m going on a diet! Who hasn’t said that around this time of year at some point during their lives? As summer approaches, many often begin the preparation of the summer body through diet, exercise, and determination. This summer I am taking back my brain. It’s feeling a bit mushy and not quite as alert as it once was. Maybe some of it has to do with getting a bit older, but I’m not willing to believe that. I have a serious theory about the cause, which is probably not so earth-shattering. I have developed some unhealthy device habits. I do a lot of scrolling and skimming. I am convinced that the amount of time I put forth in exploring ideas is far less than it used to be. The length of time that I persist in thinking deeply about any subject is shortening. The number of books that I read is on an alarming decrease. It’s time for a summer device diet, in an attempt to take back my brain.
- iPhone 5. I use my iPhone everywhere, because it is always with me. In addition to traditional telephone calls, I text family and friends around the world using both iMessage and Whatsapp. I check Facebook, Instagram, and my Memoir apps. I use RunKeeper to track my fitness activity and check the Weather Channel to know what apparel is required during said fitness activity. Sometimes I use Tabata Pro to time my interval workouts at the gym. JEFIT is an app that I use to track weightlifting routines and progress. I also have circuit routines stored in both Evernote and Notes. My gym life doesn’t seem very streamlined, but I like variety and the various apps that I use reflects that. My iPhone is also my main source of music between my iTunes collection and streaming sites like Spotify and TuneIn Radio. Oh, how could I forget that my iPhone has kept me from getting lost more than once!
- iPad Air. I use my iPad both at work and at home.
- At work I use my iPad to access meeting agendas and action notes while in meetings outside of my office. I also access supporting documents and resources during meetings.
- At home I use my iPad to check email, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I rarely answer email on handheld devices. Checking social networking really means just scrolling through the sites, occasionally sending an article to my Pocket (to read later) or pinning an interesting photo/idea (to reference later). I have magazine subscriptions through Zinio that I sometimes remember to look at and read. I used to read ebooks (purchased and borrowed from my public library) on the Kindle app. Once in awhile I do the USA Today crossword. My iPad has become my go-to device in the kitchen! It is always propped up on top of the coffee machine when I am cooking, following recipes.
- Desktop. The only time and place that I use a desktop is in my office at work. I always have anywhere from 8 – 15 tabs open in my browser, school email up and running, calendar alerts, at least two documents in varying stages of creation, .pdf docs open as I research, music streaming from any number of US-based altrock radio stations… I will be leaving this behind when I close up my office later today.
The Habits as they currently exist…
- iPhone. Communicating, texting, scrolling, researching, and working out.
- iPad. Communicating, texting, scrolling, note taking, researching, cooking, and reading.
- Desktop/Laptop. Communicating, creating documents, researching, reading, working, and online purchasing.
I am under no delusion that my reliance on, and use of, these devices has become a vital part of my work and life flow. However, I know that a fair amount of my device use outside of work is mindless time filler that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. That’s not to say that there isn’t a time and place for mindless time filler type of activities. It’s time to exercise moderation and stimulate my brain more deeply. Here’s my current plan:
- 60 minutes of connected device time each day. Maybe in only one sitting, maybe in two sittings. Always a timer will be set.
- Compulsive accessing of, and searching for, information will not be indulged. I will keep a handwritten list that I can refer to during connected device time.
- Reading hard copies of books and magazines. I have plenty at my disposal between the ones that I already own and the public library.
- iPhone will be used as a telecommunication tool. Calling and texting, iMessage and Whatsapp only, is necessary to remain in contact with family and friends. My iPhone will have its specific place on a kitchen counter (much like telephones were attached to a wall in days of yore). I will not carry it around the house with me, unless I am on a phone call.
- Music. I can’t live without it. I will allow myself access to my iTunes collection and streaming sites.
- Fitness apps. I’m not 100% certain what to do about these. Do I need to track every. single. run.? Nope. I do like to ensure that I am devoting a minimum time to each run (30 minutes). I like to check my pace. I like to run intervals. RunKeeper use needs further thought, but I can probably do without the other fitness apps that I use. Running and gyming device-free is something I’m not quite willing to give up, but this is a diet of moderation. Fitness apps require further thinking…
- Kitchen Time. It will be a return to the cookbooks in my pantry and the public library. If there is a recipe that I require from a connected device, I’ll save it to my Evernote recipe folder and make it available offline.
This is my current plan. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. I’m sure the plan will evolve throughout the summer. I’ll report in throughout the summer with updates.
I would love to hear how you have practiced device moderation! Share your device dieting and moderation strategies in the comments section!
In the world of education, bullying has become a hot topic. As educators, we work to help students to treat each other in ways that they would like to be treated. We work with the bullies to improve their treatment of others and to feel better about themselves. We work with the victims to console, to give them voice, and to develop their confidence in standing up for themselves. We work with the bystanders to recognize bullying behavior, to defend what is right, and to report mistreatment.
There is a paradox at play in the world of education and its anti-bullying initiatives. The adults themselves include bullies, victims, and bystanders. To be fair, adult bullying is not unique to the education profession, nor is it only found in professional settings. The situational irony is that the adult bully educators are part of an institution actively working against bullying behaviors. I guess the childhood bullies that aren’t changed through the anti-bullying campaigns in schools continue on into adulthood.
Adult bullies have been on my mind for quite awhile now. On my mind and in my midst. I am just so done with bullies. And by “done” I mean I’m tired of sitting back and remaining a quiet victim and bystander. Taking any sort of action has implications, though. Some minor, some not so minor. No one likes the the perceived tattletale. No one wants to look beneath the shiny veneer they see to catch a glimpse of what lies beneath. Sometimes people prefer to blame the victim. There are so many awkward and uncomfortable social juxtapositions that complicate the issue because my bully might be your friend or vice-versa.
Introducing…the adult bullies. Maybe you know them?
There are four particular bully personalities who come to mind immediately. Each of them has varying degrees of impact on the well-being and emotional security of others.
- Bully #1. This is the serial bully who employs a varied repertoire of bullying tactics in their dealings with victims. The repertoire might include shouting (sometimes in front of others), excluding individuals, ignoring/avoiding, denying opportunities, discouraging progress, throwing a tantrum when disagreement arises, and flat out telling lies about individuals and what they believe.
- Bully #2. This is the behind-the-scenes bully. This is the person who goes tip-tapping up and down hallways, stopping by select offices and classrooms for chatting and gossiping. This is the bully who talks about everyone who is not in the room with few exceptions. No one feels safe. Some play along in hopes of remaining in good graces in order to avoid slander. Inevitably Bully #2 can do much damage to the culture of an organization.
- Bully #3. This is the projection bully. This bully may be unable to torment their intended victim, so friends and/or family of the intended victim become the target. Their bullying tactics are petty with attempts that include a) always being sarcastic to avoid being sincere, b) making jokes that are degrading (e.g., blond/female intelligence), and/or c) walking right on by without even being able to make eye contact or respond to an offered greeting. Their dislike is palpable whether they are bullying or not.
- Bully #4. This is the passive-aggressive bully. The one who rarely has anything nice to say about anyone, but says it in a way that is perceived as sarcastically funny. Many people laugh. Do they find Bully #4 funny? or are they relieved that they are not the victim? The victim may choose to shoot back at Bully #4 in an equally sarcastic manner. Chances are the passive-aggressive bully is unable to handle a taste of the same medicine. This may lead to Bully #4 dramatically ignoring the victim when paths cross.
But bullies have their own issues…
I’ve read A LOT about bullying, adult bullying, and workplace bullying over the past several years. Everyone knows that the bully is often motivated by their own insecurities, jealousy of what others have, etc. Trust me. There is absolutely NO COMFORT in knowing/believing that. Bullies can ruin a good thing. Bullies can ruin lives. Bullies can poison a culture for everyone.
My bullies might not be your bullies…but sometimes they are your friends.
This is the social juxtaposition that I just can not get my head around! You are nice people. You are worthy of respect. You are smart. You work hard. You make a difference in the lives of children. You would never bully anyone. You believe in equity. You fight for equity. You are a peaceful individual. You are honest. You are kind. You are smart. Yet, YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH BULLIES! You travel with them. You hang out with them. You call them your friends. You regale social networks with stories of what great humans they are. Sometimes you allow them to taint your very beautiful and positive soul. But, alas, bullies are very talented at living a dual existence leaving me to see Dr. Jekyll while you see Mr. Hyde.
Planning professional development. Making teachers happy. These are not always expressions that are used together in the same sentence.
Mixing it up.
The ES trialed three weeks of Edcamp sessions during divisional staff meeting time in December. Of course, that created a bit of a buzz among MS and HS teachers. When do we get to do something like that? Well, they finally got something like that on the afternoon of February 3. There were two Edcamp-style sessions for MS and HS teachers to choose from.
The challenges (what made this less Edcamp-y)
- This is a school-sanctioned afternoon of professional development. It is not optional.
- No one planning or facilitating (or participating for that matter) has ever participated in an Edcamp in the real world. Ever.
- It is more planned than spontaneous.
- Would facilitators really facilitate conversations or would they default to the status quo and present information?
- The To Do List
- Soliciting Topics and Facilitators – A Google form allowed teachers to propose Edcamp topics and to opt-in to facilitate a session.
- Teacher sign ups were facilitated, once again, by a Google form. Because certain sessions were quite popular, we capped sign ups at around 12 – 15 participants (which I monitored via the spreadsheet that collected the information). I went into the form and removed the sessions as they reached capacity.
- I met with facilitators to outline a few agreements, answer questions, and offer any support they might need. I also created and shared an Edcamp: Facilitator How To guide.
- I created and shared a collaborative document for facilitators to capture the conversation during their sessions. This is also intended for follow-up and continuing conversations over time. Facilitators were free to use and edit the collaborative document to suit their needs. However, it proved to be a bit “clunky” in design for some facilitators.
- Locations were assigned and door signs were made.
The Edcamp Experience
The entire afternoon went off without a hitch. Teachers seemed to welcome a different approach to professional development. The follow up survey certainly confirms this!
This is the new question on the tips of some participants’ tongues. It takes on a variety of tones:
- What now? What actions will actually come from this?
- What now? Philosophical chit-chat is fine, but what about the practical?
- What now? When do we get to do this again?
- What now? I was really motivated by the conversation and want it to continue.
After discussion with the Professional Development Planning Team, we shared some of the following ideas with staff:
Learning that comes from Edcamps is driven by the interests of participants. The directions in which participants choose to take their learning are infinite. Below are some ideas to consider for participants who are wondering, “Now what?”
The next step is yours.
Here are some suggestions to continue and extend the conversations and learning from Edcamp sessions:
- Use the collaborative docs from each session to continue conversations, to collaborate, to share resources, and to inquire with your Edcamp group. Find the list of topics and collaborative docs here.
- Seek further information and answers (e.g., do a Google search, read an article or a blog on an Edcamp topic of interest).
- Consider starting a PLC to further explore a topic with colleagues.
- Identify and reach out to someone at AIS who could support a next action step.
- Facilitate an Edcamp session in the future to delve deeper and identify actions.
“The teacher, the admin, the coach – the individual – has to assume responsibility for his own learning. The individual path an educator takes to grow professionally must be built by the learner, for himself, in order to be effective. No two paths will look the same. And that’s a good thing.”
Hilt, Lyn. “A PKM Challenge.” Learning in Technicolor. 19 Feb. 2014.
It looks like there will be another Edcamp opportunity in April. We will incorporate some tweaks to improve upon some of the organizational pieces.
However, what’s really next in PD? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. Actually, I feel like what is next is the re-branding of Professional Development to become Professional Learning. After all, learning is really what we are all about!
When I was a French teacher, integrating francophone culture into my teaching was a regular occurrence. In fact, teaching the cultures of the target language was an expectation. In order to have a well-rounded second language education, as the theory goes, students must come to understand the influences of the different types of culture. There is Culture (“big c” culture) and there is culture (“little c” culture). Addressing the “big c” culture of the francophone world includes its products, e.g., the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Les Miserables, the art of the Impressionists, Le Petit Prince. The “little c” culture of the francophone world, on the other hand, would include its plethora of practices, e.g., social networking habits, family meal time, non-verbal communication, music videos by popular French rock groups. The nuances of “big c” and “little c” culture can be used to define the nuances of curriculum.
Big c. In education, we have Curriculum, which is what students should be able to do as a result of classroom instruction. The products of “big c” Curriculum include the concepts, the content, and the skills which are informed by standards, benchmarks, learning expectations, specific outcomes, anchor standards, and assessments.
Little c. Then there is curriculum. This is how we teach and assess in order to meet the expectations of the Curriculum. The curriculum encompasses the practices that guide how to deliver the Curriculum and how to assess student learning. The curriculum is where the ideas and the theories come to life. The day-to-day interactions with students that occur as a direct result of unit planning, essential questions, related concepts, assessment criteria and rubrics, lesson planning, literacy objectives, tech integration, students will be able to… statements, instructional strategies, student engagement, TOK connections in the DP, transdisciplinary skills in the PYP, and Approaches to Learning skills in the MYP.
The Curriculum is the domain where the thinking of a Curriculum Coordinator can often be found, while classroom teachers are more typically focused on curriculum. Of course, anyone in either role can easily make the shift in thinking at any moment. Therefore, it is vital to engage in conversations where the topic is clarified from the outset: is this a conversation about “big c” Curriculum or are we talking about “little c” curriculum? Chances are this simple clarification will lead to productive conversations that will move both Curriculum and curriculum forward.
Like the diverse aspects that create the rich Culture/culture of the francophone world, a rigorous and balanced educational environment is achieved when the Curriculum/curriculum are given the attention that each deserves. Together the what (Curriculum) and the how (curriculum) provide a complete educational experience that will positively impact student achievement.
***How would you define or describe Curriculum and/or curriculum?***
Wow! This is looking like a dry season for me in the area of professional development this year. For me, this creates a feeling of sadness deep within my soul. Why? Because I LOVE TO LEARN!!!
I suppose I should define the “dry season” that lies ahead.
- I finished COETAIL courses in May. This means no regular assigned readings, no required blog posts, and no tuition bills to pay.
- I already have a Master’s degree. A PhD is a next logical step…or is it?
- I finished my two-year stint as my school’s NESA representative, which included attendance at the NESA Spring Educator’s Conference.
- I’m not up for school-sponsored PD this year. Our PD budget is essentially for the constant training, maintenance, and upkeep of our IB programmes (PYP, MYP, and DP). I am not a classroom teacher, so I totally accept that training classroom teachers is priority. (But, darnit!, there’s a great opportunity in February focused on aligning the Common Core with IB programmes.)
- I have no problem financing my own PD. In fact, I often do. However, I have nothing currently in the works.
So, where does this leave me? I think it leaves me in charge of an opportunity to redefine what professional development means for me. If I’m honest, this year without professional development has, thus far, been full of professional development. I’m just finding myself on the other side, doing far more giving of PD rather than receiving.
- Coaching. After attending a phenomenal 5-day Critical Friends Group coaching workshop at the NESA SEC, I am motivated to become a facilitator. The first step includes establishing a CFG of teachers in my school and working with them over the course of the school year (and beyond, I presume). This is currently underway.
- Leading and Seeking. This year in particular, I am frequently at the forefront of divisional meetings and professional development initiatives at my school. In this capacity, I use CFG protocols in order to promote collaborative conversations around practices that directly impact student achievement. Being in front can be an enormous learning experience! To ensure growth, I do ask for feedback. Below is the basic survey form that I have used a few times. I’ve fallen behind on asking for feedback, so this is a good reminder to get back on track.
- Collaborating. The majority of this professional development leading involves a lot of collaborative planning with administrators and other teacher leaders.
- Presenting. I create a fair amount of visual presentations. In a recent in-house PD session by Jeff Layman on presentation design, I was reminded of those amazing teachings from COETAIL course 3 on visual literacy. Jeff and his reminders helped me to move outside of my thinking about presenting text to an audience. There is a way. So, I will be focusing on continuing to grow my visual presentation skills.
- Researching. I am often in research mode. Due to the nature of a five-year curriculum review cycle (and just needing to know stuff about curriculum-related topics) there is always a curriculum to be reviewed. I find myself with numerous tabs open in my browser that contain information about curriculum development, curriculum implementation, trends in literacy, math instruction, best practices in [fill in the blank], etc. There are also the plethora links to recorded webinars piling up in my inbox and iTunes U to further explore. Then it’s all about making sense of the research and its implications.
- Accepting. Perhaps this is a year when I will be less of a consumer of professional development and more a producer. <Gulp!> The good news here is that by producing I can still develop professionally. How can I not? As long as I have a clear plan, seek/receive regular feedback, and reflect, I should end up more professionally developed in June 2014 than I am today. 🙂
For it is in giving that we receive.
― St. Francis of Assisi
So, ultimately I am activating COETAIL, Part Deux. My goals are emerging based on this blog post. I certainly have some areas that will be my focal points. My year without professional development is looking to be less like a dry desert and more like a lush, fertile oasis.
It’s like throwback Thursday (#TBT), only it’s Tuesday! However, I am doing a little digital housecleaning and have stumbled upon some great files from my past. One is a picture of a fave student who just graduated from university last month. In the picture he’s in 9th grade, slightly chubby with short hair. He’s now tall, thin, with long metal-rocker locks.
Among the gems, I found the following document chronicling a workshop experience led by a certain Mr. Jeff Utecht at the 2010 NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok. Not a surprise that this document was submitted to SUNY Buffalo (with a check) in exchange for graduate credit. I was COETAIL blogging before COETAIL was a thing! Note the hyperlinks. Those were there in the original Word document. 🙂 (Only the NESA link gets an error message.)
I think this is evidence that my life could not have been complete without the COETAIL experience.
NESA 2010 Spring Educators’ Conference – PAPER 1
Buffalo State University
April 24, 2010
Thoughts on the Changing Role of the Educator in the 21st Century
At the NESA 2010 Spring Educators’ Conference in Bangkok, I (finally!) had the pleasure of attending a workshop led by Jeff Utecht of the International School of Bangkok. I walked away from his workshop entitled “Building Student Centered Blended Learning Environments” with a wealth of information. The role of technology is changing the delivery of education in significant ways. In truth, technology’s impact on the changing role of the educator is even more considerable.
Technology itself doesn’t change education, the classroom, or teaching practices. The problem with any pedagogical movement is often that it is touted as the thing that will transform education. This is the misconception that often sinks sound pedagogical ideas. A laptop cart that sits locked in a storage room doesn’t change teaching. Sparkling new computer labs that are used to teach PowerPoint don’t necessarily make for a productive learning environment. Something more than just having the technology, or access to it, is required.
It’s not about having access to the technology. The majority of my high school students carry around a mobile phone (mostly smartphones), an iPod touch, or a laptop. They own technology, they use technology, but it’s not currently impacting their learning in positive and productive ways. Students are left to their own devices (literally and figuratively) to make sense of the technology that surrounds them. Their misguided and uneducated misadventures into 21st century technology often find them making a lot of mistakes (i.e. cyber/text bullying, copy-paste plagiarism, etc.).
I find that most of my students haven’t independently moved beyond very low-level educational uses of 21st century technology. These misuses include: reading Spark Notes or Shmoop instead of actually reading George Orwell’s 1984, following bizarre urban legends via their BBM network, texting gossip during classes, looking up words on dictionary.com, creating mash-up essays with excerpts lifted from various free essay sources on the web, and the list goes on. In fact, there is even a small minority of serious students who seem to be anti-technology because they see it misused and abused by students around them as tools for distractions and gossip mongering.
Pedagogy must change to shift the focus of 21st century learning environments. Educators must make the leap into the 21st century (hey, it’s already 10% over!). Schools need to stop reacting to students’ misuse of technology in the classroom and teach them how to become better learners while using a smartphone, laptop, or iPad. There is often an outcry from community groups when books are banned from libraries and classrooms. It’s time to hear the outcry when students are deprived of using 21st century technologies to become better learners.
My experiences in education now span two decades. I’ve been in the business long enough now to have seen my share of educational change. I have a better understanding of those been-there-done-that veterans from my early days of teaching who always stated smugly, “This new bandwagon is just like the one from x years ago.” One aspect of teaching that never changes, regardless of the bandwagon du jour, is that there is not one easy fix that will revolutionize education. Technology itself is not going to revolutionize the field of education, classrooms, or instructional practices. The key is how educators and their pedagogical practices must change in order to remain relevant in the lives of the 21st century learner.