Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hot Keys

HotKeys are keyboard shortcuts that help navigate a website or file without the use of a mouse.  For example, “Ctrl+K” will allow you to insert a hyperlink to your highlighted text.  I created a “cheat sheet” that includes the most frequently used Hot Keys that you can tape to your laptop's palm rest.  Check it out HERE.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If You're Nervous - It Means You Want To Do Your Best

That's a quote from my field experience professor at Roosevelt University.  She told us on her first day of teaching a new class, that she still gets nervous.  I remember thinking, "if she still gets nervous after being a teacher for two decades, then I can allow myself the same."

Now I am the veteran teacher helping other teachers, some with years or a decade more experience than me, through a new evaluation model.  What have I learned?

You're never too good or experienced to not be nervous.

In the past two weeks I have had meetings with five different teachers about their Individual Growth Plans and 10 different professionals getting ready for observations.  No matter what level they are - they all came to me because they want to do their best.  Fortunately, we were able to talk about their strengths and areas for growth with openness and honest dialogue.

Despite all of these enriching conversations however, when it came time to schedule my observation - I.got.stuck.

I started at the Pre-Observation Form and really started to evaluate myself against the Framework for Instructional Coaches and began wondering where do I really fit in?  What will happen if I get a Needs Improvement?  OR WORSE??  There are definitely areas I know that I have strengths in (4f and 4g I got!) - but in so many ways - I am like a first or second year teacher:  learning the culture and habits of my audience and developing my process and strategies to engage them.

I am just going to have to keep reminding myself that it's okay to be nervous - that it's only because I want to do well.  And I always want to do well.  Getting messages like this -

from a 20+ year veteran help me think that I'm doing a few things a-okay.

Update!  September 30, 2014
Today was my observation!  It went well - I think.  I allowing for some time to pass before I review the evidence.  I was observed during my StamPD monthly meeting.  Surprisingly when I got here today - I wasn't nervous at all (I think skipping caffeine this morning was a good idea).  It also helps that my Department Chair and observer happens to be one of my biggest champions.  Next week is our Post-Observation so stay tuned for the final verdict!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Practice What You Teach

I am constantly talking to all teachers about the importance of establishing good classroom routines.  It's not just because it's 2c in the Danielson Framework - but without those routines - good learning becomes impossible.  Students who want to learn get frustrated by the teacher allowing the students who are not behaving according to expectations.

But expectations are not what you say - it's what you allow to happen.

Meet Mr. Hester - you can start the video at 0:44 but watch what happens at 1:16.  

Giovanni wasn't meeting expectations - Mr. Hester quickly and efficiently re-taught the expectation and was able to return to the rest of his class.

So I know all of this and I talk about it all the time but what happens when it's my own class?

This year FHS is rolling out Bison Time - an academic resource period built into the school day.  I have been assigned 25 seniors.  On the first two days, I started with my CHAMPS slideshow clearly stating my expectations and telling them what they needed to know about me.  I thought I was like Mr. Hester.

Despite this great start - somehow by the end of Bison Time yesterday, 15 days after the first day of school, I found myself having said, "stop talking" no less than 15 times to the students.  I even had to hold back three students to talk about their lack of respect toward their fellow classmates.

How embarrassing!  How did this happen?

My Bison Time is made up of some great kids - but I forget that even seniors need to have a little direction and focus.  I said that I expected them to be quiet and to work but I allowed them to chatter and socialize.

But every setback is an opportunity for growth, right?

I need to re-teach but because my expectations were not reinforced by my actions.  Now my re-teaching cannot be as subtle as Mr. Hester's because I have let things go on so long.  Tomorrow the students will walk into this slideshow. I'll keep you posted how it goes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Professional Development in 1 Minute

Teachers are so busy - trying to fit Professional Development can be a challenge.  I am trying a new venture to keep it under a minute and to the point.  Here is my first video that talks about using 1:1 technology in the classroom.  

Help me grow! Please leave me comments here, on YouTube or email me.