Thursday, December 26, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | December 20, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

As 2013 comes to a close, this will be the year's final installment of the Teacher Leadership ChallengeThe #TLC2014 will resume regular weekly installments on Friday January 10, 2014. 


This Week's Challenge:

How Do You Celebrate Accomplishment in the Classroom?

IMG_2631The holidays are often a time where classroom celebrations take place in schools across the country. Students learn about the cultural traditions and histories of the holidays celebrated in our country and around the world.
Christmas pageants abound in elementary schools, holiday parties happen in classrooms of all grades, and students celebrate the heritage behind the holidays by making crafts or food.
Whether or not your classroom celebrates one or many holidays at the end of the year, December is a time for us to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous 12 months. Classroom celebrations are nothing new, and they are not limited to just holiday time; however, parties and festivities seem to happen much more commonly in December than any other time of the school year. Albeit there are perhaps more holidays to celebrate in December, why do we limit celebrations in the classroom to just this time?
The energy that goes into planning a holiday party, cultural project, or student musical performance at the holidays could very easily be applied at other times in the year. Some teachers choose to celebrate accomplishments in their classrooms throughout the year, whether that is a student's birthday, achievement on a test, or success with a fundraiser. There are many reasons to celebrate in learning all during the year, not just at the holidays.
What are the classroom traditions that you have with your students or at your school?  How do you recognize the holidays in December with kids? Are there other times in the year that you have a classroom party or reward activity? In what ways are your students celebrating learning throughout the year? What events do you recognize as important enough to celebrate with your students? How does a celebration of accomplishment contribute to your student culture and classroom brand?
In some classrooms, kids bring in baked goods for their birthday, while in other classrooms an exceptional performance by the class on a test is reason enough to spring for pizza, but what accomplishments do you point out with your students as being cause for celebration? How have you come to celebrate those achievements with students? What do you hope to accomplish by celebrating milestones in the classroom?
Whether it is a regular occurrence, like a birthday, or an infrequent achievement like exceptional performance on a test, what are the factors that lead you to identify events worth celebrating, and how do you acknowledge those with your class to celebrate learning all year round?

Image Credit: Gary G. Abud, Jr.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Making of a "Teacher" | December 6, 2013

What makes for an outstanding teacher?

What makes an educator outstanding is really a matter of opinion. For some a quiet class with students studiously working is fantastic. For others a chaotic, but controlled class is ideal.  All teachers have their niche and it's how they use that niche to help their students be successful that makes them extraordinary. For instance, in a recent Twitter post by @MathMinds on Jim Grant's Stance of Extraordinary teachers it says that extraordinary teachers "teach the children they have." 
I find this so true! There are days I wish I had some of my past students or that "dream class." But there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not troubleshooting my current class of students. Its the teachers that live in the now and focus on improving the behavior and academic skills of their current students that should be considered extraordinary. Teachers really become outstanding when they understand the needs of their students and use those to build a classroom geared towards their students. And even more, evolve and change it as each year of students moves through the classroom.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | December 13, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

What are the hallmarks of effective collaboration?

U.S.S. Merrimack
U.S.S. Merrimack
Over the past several years, the word "collaboration" has become a staple in education. It is associated with what are known as 21st century learning skills and modern teaching. The workplace today is characterized as being an environment where individuals collaborate. Many education speakers, authors, and advocates posit that collaboration is an essential element of career and college readiness.

Is collaboration a new idea or a reiteration of a pre-existing notion that already permeated schools? 

Education increasingly seeks to bring people together in learning. We encourage collaboration between colleagues, schools, policy makers, and especially students. We enact programs and policies against anti-collaborative acts, such as bullying, and herald the fact that collaboration can now be accomplished online in realtime using web tools and apps.

In all areas of education though, we seem to rather loosely use the word collaboration when we speak about it in teaching and learning. Although it has become more popular in use, but it has also become somewhat interchangeable with "teamwork." In fact, the use of the word in writing has skyrocketed in recent years, especially in education, despite the fact that collaboration's cousin, "cooperation," has longer had a presence in classrooms with "cooperative learning" and opportunities for group work. However, with classrooms and schools shifting instructional practice to methods like project-based learning, has collaboration become more valuable than mere cooperation? If so, why? What is it about collaboration that makes it so great? 

If collaboration is such a high-merit skill, then we must be able to define its beneficial attributes. In all fairness, it's unclear whether collaboration is something that could be pointed to if it were happening. This leads to a wondering: what is collaboration and what does it look like in practice?

How do we get students to work together in a meaningful way; furthermore, how do we get them to want to work together? Does collaboration simply mean working together or alongside others? Does it mean everyone has defined tasks, or can there be overlap in the roles that collaborative partners have?

Does collaboration look different for students than it does for educators themselves? Do we hold the same standards for working together collaboratively that we expect from our students? If not, how do we achieve effective collaboration with our colleagues? Can collaboration be taught to students if teachers know how to do it themselves?

Is collaboration the product of what we create when we work together, or is it something greater than the sum of our individual efforts, like synergy?

It seems education has advanced from cooperation to collaboration; perhaps coopetition will be next...

Image Credit: USS Merrimack Cardboard Boat by Judy Griffith, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | December 6, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This week, the #TLC2014 is back from Thanksgiving hiatus. We all need to focus on loved ones and gratitude during this holiday season, and (unlike Wal-Mart) this blogging challenge is not going to stand in the way of holiday time with family. So, we are back this week starting up the December installments of the Teacher Leadership Challenge.

This Week's Challenge:

What makes for an outstanding teacher?

NME BanquetToday, I am at the Network of Michigan Educators (NME) annual conference in Lansing, MI. This organization is a professional association made up of Michigan's top educators recognized with either a state-level or national-level awards. The Network Mission is to improve teaching and learning by connecting recognized educators as a resource to inform practice, research, and policy. It is an outstanding group of some of the most dedicated and accomplished teachers in the entire state. There are presidential award winners, national Milken educators, state teachers of the year, National Board Certified Teachers, and teachers of promise (exemplary pre-service teachers.) It is the Justice League of teaching in the state of Michigan. All of these educators are passionate about professional learning, engaging students, using best-practice methods, and increasing student achievement through collaboration.

It is my first year as a member of the NME, since I won the Michigan Teacher of the Year award in May. What an honor it is to be with such a talented group of teachers. All the teachers have a variety of levels of experience, come from all areas of the state, and work throughout K-12 education. There is very little that could be as inspiring as being around an all-star team of professionals in your field to converse and learn together. 

Spending time with such talent challenges you to be the best teacher you can be. You start to become more reflective about your classroom practice and look for your inspiration in others' practice. All of this got me thinking about what makes for exceptional educators like this group contains. There are some similarities between all the teachers in this group, and likely all the great teachers out there, but that begged the question for me: what makes for an outstanding teacher?

Is it the level of dedication? Is it their passion for a subject area? Does creativity in lessons, projects, or technology use sum it up? When you think of outstanding teachers you know, yourself even, what comes to mind? Is it the way a teacher inspires students, challenges them to reach their potential, or provides them a space to innovate? What would be the features you look for in a teacher to distinguish them from others in the field? How could you identify an outstanding teacher? Does being outstanding at teaching look the same at every grade level and in each subject area? Are there common threads of excellence that weave through all classroom teachers who are great that make them outstanding?




Where to Turn For Support | November 22, 2013

Jessica Anderson
http://triscicurious.blogspot.com/2013/11/when-students-channel-hormonal.html




Over the last six weeks I've had the pleasure of mentoring a teaching candidate from one of our state universities. It has been an up and down battle for me as I'm learning to let go of my control and put my classroom in the hands of another teacher. As we've moved from co-teaching to him having full control, I've gotten really good at reflecting out loud and really analyzing every move I/we make as teachers.

What I've tried to model and really engrain in my practice is the need for forming positive, professional relationships with students, the use of exploratory and collaborative activities and projects for learning, using probing questions to answer questions, and, lastly, the importance of failure. 

The latter is the hardest for us as humans, but I believe one of the most important. I take you back to the first day my teaching candidate arrived. It was a beautiful day outside, which means it was scorching in my classroom. Seriously, a sauna...I'm not kidding! My students were doing presentations, which was out of their everyday routine of working independently/collaboratively at their own pace. They were active, missing their ears, and had channeled the behavior of hormonal teenagers on substitute days. I was at a loss. Every teaching trick I had in my arsenal had failed. I was feeling defeated and really second guessing why I had a teacher candidate observing me, that lady who clearly had no control over her classroom. But here's the thing. It was a great starting point for communicating with him about the classroom and trouble-shooting issues regarding learning and behavior in the classroom. It forced me to debrief, think about the triggers behind the behavior, and narrow in on a plan of action to address the issues.  So how did I know how to do this?

When I applied for my current position one of the questions I asked in my interview was, "do you have a mentoring program?" Luckily administration was eager to pair me up with a teacher around my own age who had been at the school a few years. She was great at reflecting, helping me troubleshoot, and really honing in on the importance of forming positive relationships with students. She helped me move past my failures and use them to reflect on future practices. It was her mentoring that helped me feel more comfortable in my educator skin. 

So with the above in mind, when my teaching candidate leaves my classroom in two weeks, what advice will I give him?

  1. Failure is okay.
  2. Exploratory learning is key.
  3. Always answer questions with questions.
And...
  • Ask for a mentor!
It is my belief that if we want to keep new teachers in this profession they must be paired with strong, reflective, supportive mentors, who are willing to share and debrief about their practice. Whether this happens through subject/grade level meetings or on an individual basis, I don't feel it matters. As long as a line of communication is formed and talking is happening. All teachers, especially new ones, need to feel like someone cares. Failure is inevitable and someone should be there to help them pick up the pieces. 

Be a mentor today, change many lives tomorrow!

A Brief Philosophy of Technology in Education | October 25, 2013

http://www.techsavvyed.net/archives/3328

Creating a positive message about students using technology for educational success can be difficult. Showing off students typing away at a row of computers is a nice way to say “look at all this productivity,” but it doesn’t convey something as emotional as a student-led presentation or a teacher’s own voice. I tried to blend both in a recent video that I made for my district, showcasing the thoughts behind the use of technology in education. It’s not perfect, and I had all sorts of headaches with the audio (lots of noisy classrooms), but this is my first attempt to show some of the thought behind our teachers’ instructional methodology when using technology. You can view below or on Vimeo.
In all fairness, this video was born out of Gary Abud’s Teacher Leadership Challenge from October 25 of this year. In the post, Gary challenged us to answer the question:

How is your personal philosophy of education demonstrated in your teaching style?

At the same time Gary asked this question, I also received a request from my school district’s Superintendent to craft a short video to present the use of technology in our schools. Blending the two seemed like a good idea, and while my execution is certainly still a bit off (I should have shot a lot more footage of students using mobile technology), I feel as though I at least presented these educators in a positive light. And I began to touch upon what Gary is asking of us…to re-examine those questions we most likely haven’t been asked since our pre-service days; “what is your personal philosophy of education? What impacts your instructional environment? How do you see the influence of the world around you changing the way you teach?”
I’m planning two more installments to this question, with a heavy shift to student voices for the next one. In the meantime, I wanted to get this one out there for the world, solicit some advice for polishing it up, and maybe spark some more conversation and sharing about how we think about technology in the classroom, and how we share that with others.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | November 22, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

What can be done to ensure that new teachers are prepared and supported to be most successful and remain in education?

IMG_1565A staggering statistic from the results of a 2007 report drafted by the University of Michigan Public Policy Class 632 for the Michigan Department of Education revealed that nearly 40 percent of public school teachers left their jobs in their first five years. Though teachers may leave for a variety of reasons, the inability to retain quality teachers will inevitably affect student achievement and many other aspects of public education regardless of the reasons that a teacher departs from the classroom.

Factors cited in teacher attrition included family and personal reasons; however, this rate is considerably higher in education than other professions. When looking at factors associated with teacher attrition, age, gender, and school characteristics have the strongest correlation. Other factors such as education level, teaching position, and race were examined but did not have as strong of a correlation to overall attrition rates. 

The introductory years of teaching are challenging times of adjustment. More is now expected of teachers than ever before. The initiatives of standards-based education reform have made student achievement an imperative task alongside other classroom and school challenges. Novice teachers are sometimes inadequately prepared, in a practical sense, for what lies ahead in their career. Most teacher education programs only put trainees into internships anywhere from five to twenty weeks. Teacher education models that do not provide adequate practical experience for pre-service teachers lead new teachers to a false sense of preparedness. With heavy theoretical training, but little chance to translate theory into practice, some novice teachers find themselves in uncharted territory with minimal support. 

So what is a solution?

Making certain that teachers are prepared coming into the field, continue to be professionally supported as they start out in their career, and remain in the profession beyond the five-year mark are three critical elements to ensuring student success. How can this be accomplished?

What do you believe helped you to be successful in education? What allowed you to get beyond the hurdles and challenges of your early years? Did you feel prepared by your teacher preparation program to enter the field and be successful? What are the features of a teacher education program that can best prepare students for a future career in classroom teaching? What supports do you think need to be in place when teachers are starting their career and getting the hang of their duties as an educator? Are there certain things that can help a teacher to remain in the profession beyond the initial years? 

Some believe that quality of education in college, such as content area knowledge, is the most important aspect of preparing a future teacher. This has led to a focus on the results of content area teacher certification tests. On the other hand, some think that the practical experience of actually teaching in a classroom is what matters most. Though it is difficult to assess an individual's teaching ability with a paper-pencil certification test, pedagogy is said to play a role. To what extent do content knowledge and methods play into preparedness for classroom teaching? Are there certain supports that should be in place to help a new teacher getting into the swing of things? Does mentoring help? Could any of the current preparations or supports be improved to help new teachers be even more successful than some currently are? 

Whether you draw on your own successes, or challenges overcome, in your career, or merely speculate what might a possible solution, consider what factors could help new teachers to be even more successful in beginning their career and ultimately keep them in the classroom longer.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Connectivity: More Than Just an Internet Term | November 8, 2013

Jessica Anderson
http://triscicurious.blogspot.com/2013/11/connectivity-more-than-just-internet.html

Today, I had a conversation in passing with my principal about how I've been feeling about teaching. This year has by far been the best I've felt about my content, practices, and management. I come to work excited everyday and the only thing I look forward to about Friday is the fact that I can wear jeans. I no longer feel the need to plow through the week to reach Friday.  I mentioned that since I've started blogging that I feel like a more reflective teacher. I see this also when I debrief with my teaching candidate about his lessons and classroom management. But how did I get here?

I owe where I'm at to my twitter PLN. In June when I got a twitter account, it was for the main purpose of sharing my thoughts with an individual on my NSTA listserv. He asked me, after reading one of my response comments on the listserv, where he could read more about my classroom practice and thoughts and I had nothing. Sure I had Facebook and a Google Account, but nothing that was established as a professional account with an educational purpose. It was here that my journey as a connected and reflective educator began.

These days I'm involved in two twitter chats (#SCItlap and #levelupED) as well as dabble in several others. I guest moderate the #SCItlap chat and have even done a GHO with these individuals. By far the connections that I've made with the individuals involved in these chats have been the best professional development I've been involved in all year. Every week I collect new ideas to implement in my classroom. These collected ideas keep me excited about my content and teaching.

I also owe a portion of my passion and drive to Dave Burgess.  He reminded me through his book "Teach Like a Pirate," why I love teaching.  The words he writes have truly helped me gear myself up every single Sunday night for the week. It's also been helpful to be able to connect with him on twitter as it makes the methods and philosophy more real for me.

All in all, if I had one piece of advice to give to teachers, it would be this---There are systems all around the world that require connections in order to successfully function; education is no different. In order to become a impactful teacher you must mold yourself through effective professional development, collaboration, and push yourself beyond the "traditional." One way to do this is to become a connected educator and to look outside your four classroom walls. Believe me, once you start you'll never look back.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | November 15, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

What are some of the people or things that inspire you as an educator?

An academic event, with an athletic feel
An academic event, with an athletic feel
Whether it be a colleague in your building who is doing innovative work in their classroom, a student who shines brightly with potential and promise, our own family members and children, or an experience that left you wondering how you could strive for even more, inspiration is all around us. It comes in a variety of instances in our everyday lives and helps us to focus on what is great in the world. Inspiring people can remind us of something that we have taken for granted or simply help us to consider another point of view. Inspiring events may make us feel called to action, thought, or word, but they move us in some way nonetheless.

We might watch TED Talks in our classrooms, PLCs, or staff meetings to get us motivated and inspired. Some of the most poignant ideas shared on stage have been captured by TED Talks and shared around the world. Even sometimes the sheer act of courage it takes to share an idea with others can be inspiring, despite the content of the message. Everyone has an idea worth sharing--even kids.

As educators we work with a lot of young people, many of whom have been through some unique experiences or challenges in their lives. Watching young people grow into their potential or overcome obstacles in their lives can be one of the most inspiring aspects of teaching. So what or who inspires you as an educator? What events, people, or experiences have been a part of your career and impacted you in a meaningful way? How has that inspiration impacted you personally or in your career? Today's challenge is to identify inspiration in your life, call it out, point at it, and acknowledge its impact in your career and life.

Here is a daily boost of inspiration to get you started today. This video was made by a nine-year-old boy recently and posted on YouTube. It has received nearly 45K views in just a couple of weeks. It is a lip dub video of "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis sung by Spongebob:
 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | November 8, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

Why might it be important for teachers to connect with other educators?

some e cardsLet's face it, there are many things going on all at once in a classroom. Decisions regarding curriculum, instruction, assessment, grading, technology, and the well-being of students are only some of the many considerations going through a teacher's mind during a given day. 

From being a manager, to decision maker, to content expert and leader, teachers wear many "hats" and their hat rack can often become very full.
Busy has become the status quo in education, and this is compounded by all of the outside influences of changing accountability and testing requirements. Add on top of all this the negative news stories and rhetoric that get directed at education on a regular basis, like the common myths about schools or teachers, and there can be plenty of reason to close the classroom door and pull the shade. Retreating to the classroom and isolating ourselves may seem like an easy way to avoid all of the negativity, distractions, and focus on the main thing, teaching and learning, but are we actually better off alone?
You don't escape all the decisions, demands, and challenges of classroom teaching simply because you choose not to believe they exist or you refuse to address them. 
Teacher leaders have realized that there is power in numbers. We can learn from each other and with each other. By working together, we have the ability to make our teaching better, others' teaching better, and teaching better. Not only do we posses the ability to be teacher leaders, we have the responsibility to do so. Connecting with other educators can happen in a variety of ways. You might connect with teachers in your grade level team, department, building or professional learning communities. Beyond the walls of your school, you might attend conferences, be part of professional associations, blog, tweet, "tumbl," or "+" with other educators. Social media is a powerful tool for getting connected and networking with educators from around the world. Sharing your own classroom practice, but also learning from others' ideas, can help us to grow our instructional craft, our leadership, and our voice, because together we are louder.

What do you do to connect with other educators? Would you consider yourself a 'connected educator' or one who is involved in education circles? If you are starting to connect, what are your reasons for reaching out to other educators? What do you offer to teachers in your area or beyond, and what do you hope to learn from others? What value do you find in connecting with teachers around the world or locally in your area? 


Image: "Teacher's Mind" by Some E-Cards 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Teacher Leadership Challenge | November 1, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis is a multipart series of posts intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online and in person. The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond within one week to the prompt via a post you publish to your blog. Responses to the prompt that you publish to your own blog should be around 500 words or less. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.

You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at tlc2014.posts@blogger.com Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published from sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

What factors influenced you to become a teacher?

IMG_2937Some educators knew from a young age that they wanted to be a teacher, while for others it was a shift from their established career path that led them into education. Everyone has a unique story that describes their path into teaching. Each story tells more than just the steps of what led them into a classroom. It describes the path to the classroom. And while that path may have been illuminated early on, or made apparent later in the journey, the paths all have led to the same place. For some, teaching might be a calling, while for others there was never any question of what the future held.

Whether you grew up in a family of educators or had no association with teaching other than being a student yourself, you can likely identify influential people, times, or experiences that shaped your career decision. Do you remember an inspiring teacher who you had in your career? Were you an athlete who had coaches who influenced your life? Maybe there an experience where you realized that you were good at teaching something to someone else. Many people tutored, coached, or mentored others as young people themselves, which revealed success in working with others.

Most teachers can dial back and describe that exact moment where they made the decision to become a teacher. All of the influences that led them to go into the teaching profession have shaped, in some way, their philosophy of education and goals as an educator. Those same reasons behind why they went into teaching are the source of how they derive a sense of accomplishment from the profession and working with others.

So, what is your story of what influenced you to get into the teaching profession? Was it an interest in working with young people? Did you have a passion for a subject area that you eagerly wanted to share with others? Was it a role model who taught you something that inspired you to do the same in your life? All of us have a story of why we became a teacher. These stories might be different, but they all unite us by bring us together in education.

Image: "Children's Tile" by Gary Abud