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