March 3, 2019

A Great Day of Learning...

A couple of weeks ago, our district did something we have not done in a while...joined forces in an effort to provide professional learning to all of the teachers and staff.

This started early in the year as an idea that would grow into one of my favorite days in my career. This professional learning opportunity did not happen without a great deal of work and collaboration but it did happen.

The event kicked off with a awesome opening by our superintendent. He spoke to the importance of learning but also the importance of learning together. This was a pivotal moment for our school district on the path to being the best!

Here is what it looked like logistically:

After the opening remarks each teacher moved to an array of classrooms where a topic of their choice was offered. The learning did not stop there because we rotated two more times to other classrooms based on topics the teachers chose. Oh and by the way, those offerings were facilitated by none other than the teachers and administrators of our district.

Teachers teaching teachers...

Teachers learning things that THEY felt would benefit them on a day-to-day basis...

Here are a few of the moments captured.

The key to this training that made it successful...CHOICE. Teachers were able to choose sessions that fit what they wanted to learn more about. I know you are wondering, how many sessions could they possible choose from? Well, to be exact...24. Yep, there were 24 total sessions ranging from dyslexia to integrating technology and anywhere between. There was even a physical education session where teachers could let loose and play games that their students were participating in.

I heard comments like...
"best PD ever!"
"I loved the fact that we had a choice."
"I just liked seeing people from other schools.

The day itself flowed so nicely that it seems that setting it up was a simple task. Don't get me wrong, there was a GREAT DEAL of work put into this. Teachers were surveyed as to what they needed and presenters were asked to leave their comfort zone and share what they know with their colleagues. Logistically, we wanted everything to flow so that the focus that day would be on the content. The future looks bright for this event!

So what is next?

Well, we plan on replicating this activity for the future. We will continue to do some small learning opportunities but we are thinking big for next year, hopefully half of our early dismissal days will look similar to this one. This is a GREAT way to provide personalized learning opportunities for teachers but definitely not the only way. My hope, I continue to reach out to my PLN as well as ongoing collaboration with the instructional coaches to come up with even better ways to help teachers learn.

By the way, if you have an interest in seeing the specific structure of our day, feel free to shoot me an email or find me on Twitter.

Good luck!

January 11, 2019

5 Tools I used TODAY

People ask me all of the time..."What tools do you use regularly to help increase your efficiency?" I guess the word efficient could be debatable, but I do think certain tools make my life easier and more enjoyable. That counts for something right??

I always have a couple of those tools on the tip of my tongue but today I was intentional on paying attention to what I used. I wanted to share those tools today so that you can get an idea of what could potentially help you in your day. So, here you go.

These are the 5 tools I used TODAY (in no particular order):

Image result for pocket

There is not a day that goes by that I do NOT save something to my Pocket. This is a great site and extension where with a click of a button, you can save an article, video, link etc to one location that can be easily found. Also, once it is saved to Pocket, you can "tag" them into specific categories to make finding them even easier. Two cool things...YOU can use Google to log in AND you can use it on any device. Simply meaning if you are on your phone which happens to be an Iphone or on your computer which happens to be a Chromebook. You can save on either and they can be found on both...make sense?? In fact, any where I log into my Pocket, I will find my stored information.  I LOVE IT!

Image result for google keep

As a list guy and a checkbox guy, I love the fact that I can do both on Google Keep. One guy I met said that he did not quite understand the appeal to Google Keep just yet. I explained to him, that it really is a personal preference, there are others but for my use, Google Keep is the best. Once a list is created, it can be shared, it can be colored, it can be pinned to easily find. The user can also take regular notes, save images or even draw and write within the app. Oh, by the can also be used on any platform, any device. 

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I have been preaching this one for years. Twitter could potentially be one of my best professional development tools in my tool box. "Wait!" say most people. "How can a social media too be used for PD?" Very simple, I have made connections with people all over the world who may have answers to questions I am seeking. Also, if there is a topic that interests me, if I need to learn more about something, there is most likely a chat that coincides with that topic. A simple hour long Q and A can sometimes be more beneficial than a 3 day conference at a big hotel...and A LOT cheaper. Are you still unsure?? Sign up for an account, follow me and start asking questions. I will fill you in and show you how Twitter benefits me. 

Image result for g suite

I really could not choose just one of these because I literally almost use everyone one of these tools daily. Probably my favorite out of this group would be Google Slides because of the ability to do so many things. They are all good but Google Slides has a special place in my Googly Heart. So, I guess I did just choose one. But, I think you should give them all a try. I use Gmail, Calendar, and Docs multiple times a day. There are so many tools to choose from!

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Podcast App

I listen to music occasionally, but my go to activity while on the road (or doing dishes) is listening to a podcast. I have favorites and not all are education-related but all are equally important to my sanity. You see, I can listen to stories, jokes, series, interviews and so on. And all of those play a role in my daily life. And yes, podcasts can also be used for professional development. In fact, I used to co-host a podcast that could be found on multiple streaming apps. There is a rumor that podcast may be reborn...stay tuned.  While you wait, here are some of my favorites:

There you have it. I promise, I have used ALL of those tools TODAY and yesterday and the day before...

There are others but these I use regularly. 

What do you use??