My Why…

Our district administrative team was at a leadership training today with several districts from MN.  Towards the end the day, We watched Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” video.  It had been a while since I had seen it, but good to reflect upon the vision of our district.

As a homework assignment, we were to reflect on our why.  Why are we in the positions were are in? Why do we come to work everyday? And what is our why (vision) for education?

Below is a few things that drive me. That I believe to my core….

  1. Foster self directed learners who persevere through difficulties.
  2. Engage learners in authentic tasks to create authentic products for an authentic audience.
  3. Develop student leaders with global and empathetic view of the world who actively act upon problems we face today and tomorrow.
  4. Personalize the education of our children to meet core curriculum as well as their passions and interests.
  5. Create the culture of shared leadership and learning in our organization’s system to provide 1-4 that is engaging to all stakeholders.
A graphic  of My Why...

A graphic of My Why…

 

I know this probably sounds like a lot of fluff but this keeps me up at night.  My why keeps me coming to work even when times get tough and it would so much easier to quit. As a tech director, you would think I would focus on technology – and trust me – I do have a passion for tech, but it has taken me years to realize that focus is not about technology – rather focus on those relevant tasks and let technology amplify….

  • Amplify learning
  • Amplify student voice/choice
  • Amplify our and our  students impact on the world.

So, what am I missing?  I would love to hear your WHY.

School Leaders: What does your digital footprint say about you? Your school?

Over the next couple of weeks our leadership team is leaving room on our weekly agenda to discuss  DIY PD with twitter as well as sharing our district’s story using social media.  What is our brand? Who is telling our story? How does social media impact our story?  What does my digital footprint say about me as a professional?

To start, I sent a short google form and asked team members to share their professional interests and current twitter use.   I took the time and selected  hashtags that would be relevant to them. As for their Twitter use (below)  I could care less if someone is a beginner… this isn’t an evaluative question – this is a question to guide learning.  My goal – to get all of our team at a level 3.

1 – Beginner – I am fairly new to twitter and I may know some features, but not all features. It still is a little bit of a mystery to me.

2 – Developing –  I know the basics of twitter. I can follow, retweet, tweet, reply, send pictures. Hashtags may still be a little of a mystery to me. I understand there is potential to support my growth – I am just not sure I am there yet.

3 – Proficient – I have a personal learning network that is tailored to my needs. I not only listen and learn, but contribute back to my network. I use twitter on a regular basis to support my growth and use it to showcase the passions and talents of others.

4 – Innovating – I can provide PD around Twitter.  Twitter is just part of my DNA

5 Stages of Twitter Use

5 Stages of Twitter Use

Brad Gustafson’s post “For the Kids” is an excellent way to start a social media conversation as well as taking some time observing his school’s #GWGREATS hashtag. On a personal note, I love LOVE learning about all of the great things our teachers and more importantly students are learning about.  I think its our important for our community as well. While we do have a successful facebook page –  it is manned by a few.  Twitter and hashtags can allow anyone to contribute!

Here are just a few guiding questions (and a few of my thoughts) to start your conversation with instructional leaders:

  • How do you personalize your learning ? When one properly creates their personal learning network (PLN), learning can happen when and where you need it.  Twitter has become the most positive PLC anyone could ever ask for.  I have been fortunate to connect with others (tweeps) to learn personally/professionally  but more importantly to create opportunities for our staff and students to learn.  This takes time – but so so worth it!
  • Who will model good use?  Whether you like it or not kids, as early as 9 or 10, are signing up for social media accounts.  Who do they look for? People they know.  I would much rather have my child  follow a teacher/admin who models and is developing a good digital footprint than some of the pop who has little or no moral intentions.   And even if they do follow those pop stars (you know they will) we can provide opportunities to model good use of technology.
  • Who is telling our story? Branding (AKA TELLING OUR STORY) our schools is a great way to share with our community about how we learn, share, innovate, and inspire our staff and kids.  Its a great way to cross-pollinate ideas from classroom to classroom, building to building or district to district. I also find it great to keep up to date.  Just this past weekend I was watching our #cybears hashtag to keep track of the progress of our robotics team!  We have a great facebook page – however it is only managed by a few.  Using twitter and a hashtag – allows anyone to contribute to our story – including students.
  • How do we continue to seek talented staff? How do we attract families to our community? As more and more people use social media to interact or learn – they also will use it to shop for jobs and schools.  We want families to seek Byron as a great place to educate their kids. We want talented staff in our district. Our schools footprint should be transparent and show why Byron is a great place to work and learn!  For school leaders…. our personal profiles should indicate we are great people to work for/with.

Here is an agenda I used the other day.  Feel free to tweak and use with your own teams.   If you have other ideas -share them out!

Designing Agile Learning Spaces

Yesterday I attended an excellent  webinar called “Designing Agile Learning Spaces”  Presented by Bill Selak, Director of Technology and Ilsa Dohmen, CTE Research Designer and 6th Grade Science Teacher at Hillbrook School. While watching, I did a lot of reflecting around our new pk-2 building (Due Fall 2016), our current buildings/classrooms AND our district’s strategic plan.  There were  many resources provided  by the participants and audience that I am including in this post.  Side note –  I absolutely loved the action research this team did to measure success of these environments!
Webinar – Designing Agile Learning Spaces  (just enter name and email and you will have access) The webinar is an hour – and is very worth it.  Maybe one of the best I have seen in some time!
MLE Furniture

Photo credit – http://elearningclassroom.wikispaces.com

Technology in MLE

Photo Credit – http://elearningclassroom.wikispaces.com

One of the resources provided by the audience, I especially liked, was the Modern Learning Environment Matrix.    I  appreciate the guiding questions for each criteria in each phase.  Scroll to the very bottom and you some guiding questions for measuring the success of these environments including:
  • Ubiquity in Learning
  • Student Agency
  • Connectedness
Modern Learning Environments
Other links worth reviewing and provided in the webinar

Where are you and your district in your journey of designing modern classrooms/schools? Please share any resources you have found to be valuable!

These kids TODAY…

In the history of education, our kids TODAY have more opportunities than ever before to connect, learn, and co create new knowledge with other classrooms, organizations, and experts from around the globe.  Through these connections, our kids TODAY, have more opportunities to make an impact in this world and make it a better place for generations to come.

I see a shift in schools, from being solely “dispensers of knowledge” to, instead,  helping students learn how THEY can apply their learning in a real world context.  I see a shift in schools from focusing solely on test scores – to fostering and measuring the whole child.

In my mind, our challenge is “How do we “do school” efficiently to incorporate these shifts and effectively measure success?”  Its going to take a different school system than we have TODAY as we can not continue to add these new shifts to traditional paradigms.

There is never enough time! TODAY, we need to evaluate and challenge how we currently use our time in education. TODAY, we need to create new ways to evaluate and measure student success – beyond the test score.  And TODAY, we need leaders in our schools with a mindset to challenge these traditional paradigms to support and create a better, more efficient way to “do school” in order to support every learner.

Who is up for the challenge TODAY?

I will leave you with this quote – tweeted last week by @justintarte that really hit home in my thinking…  I hope to use this blog in the weeks to come to share ideas of how we can challenge (and ACT upon) these paradigms.  Stay tuned!

Jefferson Quote

 

 

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ”
William Shakespeare

As I reflect on 21st century learning and the support systems (in the form of people) new education leadership roles have emerged across our state.  Here are just a few titles I am aware of:

  • Data Coach
  • Instructional Coach
  • Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Coach
  • Personalized Learning Coach
  • Technology Integrationist
  • Digital Learning Coach
  • Innovation Coach
  • Media Specialist (Suggested by @blueskunkblog  – added 1-8-2015)
  • and dozens of others….

After reading A Rich Seam, by Michael Fullen and Maria Langworthy, it is clear to me, that  new pedagogies are emerging that blend pedagogy, technology and innovation, and new partnerships between teachers and students.  Technology  is no longer an addition to pedagogy but instead meld a new pedagogy.   Fullan and Langworthy (2014) share the following graphic and explanation:

How New Pedagogies are Different

How New Pedagogies are Different, A Rich Seam, Michael Fullan

“The above diagram helps summarise this discussion of how the new pedagogies and deep learning differ from the model of education that dominated much of the last century. First, this model is new because it aims to achieve deep learning goals that involve the creation and use of new knowledge in the real world. Second, this model becomes manifest in the new learning partnerships that emerge between and among students and teachers when the learning process becomes the focal point for the mutual discovery, creation and use of knowledge. Third, this model responds to and is enabled by digital access inside and outside of schools.”

This work also aligns to a post by Scott McLeod – 3 Big Shifts – in which Scott shares there are 3 shifts that are or need to happen in schools today.

3 Big Shifts

3 Big Shifts, via Scott McLeod, Dangerously Irrelevant

As we think of these shifts in education and/or the new pedagogies that focus on the deep learning  – are our leadership roles also shifting to support these new pedagogies?  For instance, do technology integrationalists also coach these new instructional models?  Do our instructional coaches have discussions about technology?  Do we still need separate roles or are these roles becoming a blend as well?

So it leaves me to ask you – Has your leadership role evolved to support these new pedagogies?

  • If so, how was support given to you? What kind of development did you receive?  What resources were you given? What challenges have you overcome?
  • If not, do you find value in this idea? Or do you think we still need separate people (tech, instruction, data, ect) to support these new learning environments? If you like the idea, what support do you need? What roadblocks would you encounter?

 

Fullan, Michael, and Maria Langworthy. How New Pedagogies Are Different. Digital image. A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. N.p., Jan. 2014. Web. Nov. 2014. <http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/3897.Rich_Seam_web.pdf>.

Mcleod, Scott. 3 Big Shifts. Digital image. Dangerously Irrelavent. N.p., 22 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. <http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2013/09/3-big-shifts.html>.

PD, Online Learning, and Growth Mindset

This week will mark the end of yet another 8 week e-Classroom course and 6 more Byron educators will officially be e-Certified.  I developed and have been facilitating this for nearly 4 years and am constantly tweaking and fixing the course (via Moodle).  The smallest of improvements  can have great impact for future participants.  One of the things I LOVE about online learning, is that I have a record of discussions, reflections, and feedback.  This is critical – not for the participants – but for myself, my facilitation, and my course.

eCertification Framework

Establishing your eClassroom – Framework

Because of the way I have crafted the eClassroom course, it has provide extra time to focus on very personalized feedback.   Last year, I stumbled on Dwecks Mindset book.  It has changed my life.  I was determine to put extra time and effort to  focus on growth mindset techniques in all of my responses.   Generally reflections in Mod 1 indicated frustrations, doubt, and fear.   This is very natural and module 1 generally requires significant facilitation.   I will not lie.  I have seen some very VERY significant growth in participants this time around.  Not just growth in skill and technology but growth in mindset. From “I dont think this is for me and my classroom” to “I am ready to do this”!

I always provide opportunity for my teachers to give me feedback after each module and in an end of course survey.   The narrative provided this time around were great and the comments reflected my work in facilitation.

End of course feedback

End of Course Feedback from October-December 2014 cohort.

 

Improvements needed – my reflections

1. Somewhere in Module 1 or 2, I need to create a video about Moodle Design.  I would hope this would eliminate the amount of adjusting/clean up participants would have to do in Mod 4.  OR – better yet, maybe when I create their sandbox course – I only allow 2 or 3 topics. That way, they will try to keep unit materials under 1 topic.

2. Our district recently adopted the Marzano Framework for teaching.   This course is very aligned to Domain 1, 2, and 3.  I need to take some time and align the course to the framework, as well as ISTE and INACOL standards.  I would like to try utilize outcomes in Moodle.  If I could do standards based feedback/grading via Moodle – that would even be better. Word is @moodleshare may have figured this out!

Moodleshare Tweet

3. I would like to add a few scales to my activities to help with clarity in assessing the learning artifacts.  It is always important that my participants get opportunities to improve them.  I really like the Moodle rubrics.  Will I use those – or just a simple scale?

4. Give choice in reflections.  Either allow participants to reflect with me 1:1 (Moodle activity) or allow them an option to create a blog and reflect to their own audience – submit link to me.   I noticed one of my participants reflection improved significantly when the reflection went to our course discussion board in Mod 6.  Makes me think  – audience matters for some! I remember when I was in my masters courses and I loved LOVED blogging vs. private reflections.

5. Pay special focus with teachers in the as they are developing their units.  As they begin creating tasks and resources – its important that I provide feedback on whether or not the resources and tasks are age appropriate.  I would love to do cohorts of teachers in similar grade levels.

6. Consider either a module in copyright/fair use  or adding an activity in Mod 2/3.

7. Add more relevant research in hybrid learning.  When I first created – it was focused on online learning, I then readjusted to include flipped classroom.  I believe “Blend/hybrid” is the best solution and need to find research to support it.

Is there such a thing as the “perfect” course?  I doubt it.  But I will do my best to conquer and build it!  In the mean time, I am satisfied with the completion rate of Byron teachers (who voluntarily sign up) and the feedback they provide me to improve this course!

certification rate

eClassroom certification rate as of December 2014

 

My CTA (Call to Action) 15 minute reflection each day

My Call to Action - Reflection Last week after our #mnlead chat, I publicly promised (via Twitter) that I would try to carve at least 15 minutes each day to reflect on my learning as well as successes, challenges, and needs.   While it didn’t quite work out to reflect each day – I decided to compile a weeks worth of learning in several posts.

Each day, I highlighted my thinking, challenges, successes, or new things I am learning.   I have found it extremely valuable to think about my thinking and my own personal growth.   I would like to try and keep this up on at least a weekly basis.  Hope I can commit!

Keep learning… Geographic Information Systems

GIS - Designing for our Future

Image Credit – ESRI.Com

Did you know that schools in the state of MN can get a FREE site license for ESRI ArcGIS?  Today  (Friday) a couple of my teachers and I sat down with a rep from MDE and a GIS Analyst to discuss how we can adopt GIS (Geographic Information Systems) into our classrooms.  I never realized how powerful mapping can be and how applicable it is across the disciplines!  Check out this website (http://connected.esri.com/) to learn more how  teachers and students are utlizing the tool!  And they even have an iPad version/apps to support learning on the GO!  You can also visit MDE’s website to learn more about the initiative.

Celebrating #EduWins with #Edtech

Communicating Globally in Special Ed – Thursday was such a fun day.  @amberaslakson invited me into her classroom to observe her kids interviewing kids from Canada via Skype.  They are doing a book study with the canadians with the book  The 14th Goldfish.  They have been collaborating with kids via Edmodo and were ready to go live with a skype convo.  Something happened and the skype never occurred but I did enjoy my time interviewing the kids.  They were incredibly excited to share and my favorite moment was when one 6th grade student piped up and said – “Blog, I love to Blog. Its my favorite thing to do.”  These kids have had numerous skype discussions with kids all over the globe in @amberaslakson class and it shows.  I observed these kids had a deep understanding in communication etiquette in technology communication (whether online discussion board, responses to blogs, or skyping live).  This skill is incredibly invinvaluabled will take the a long way!!! Way to go!

Drawing by Byron MS Student

Not your Momma’s PE Class – Our HS PE class was  recognized for  innovating and personalizing physical education when our local news crew (KTTC) came for a 1 hour observation/interview.   This is a teacher led initiative and I am amazed at how far they have come in just 2 years.  Please take some time to watch the video – its just one way they are transforming PE.  I have also learned they are integrating iPads and ePortfolios as new forms of assessment.

One thing that resonated with me after a 1:1 conversation with a PE teacher,  was how our district’s vision set the stage for these teachers taking it upon themselves to innovate in their program. They also took action when our superintendent stood up in front of the entire staff and said we should not be afraid of failure.  So many things are unknown when you begin to transform your classroom, school, district.  I am so thankful they took some risks as it is benefiting our students! THANK YOU!

Kttc Story - PE

Observing iPad use in classrooms – Next Tuesday, Nov 18, teachers from Rochester Public Schools will be coming over to Byron to observe the integration of iPads to support learning and teaching in our MS/HS classrooms.  I sent out an All Call for teachers to sign up for the event.  Boy – did my teachers represent! Here is our list.    Our teachers definitely doing some amazing things…and this is a great opportunity for me to learn from them.   My take away – I think I will take this opportunity and go on a tour of these classrooms as well.  CANT WAIT!

Thinking about leadership and my own professional growth

I have been doing some soul searching on my own leadership qualities to better understand how I can improve.  Our district leadership team did a StrengthsFinder assessment several months ago.  Its amazing how a self assessment can tell you a little about yourself.  Below are my findings. In my mind, it pretty much nailed who I am.

MY TOP 5 STRENGTHS (my report - pdf)
1 Futuristic
2 Strategic
3 Ideation
4 Self-Assurance
5 Arranger

I also completed a Meyers Briggs Self Assessment via 16personalities.com and again… similar themes came out.  After taking the assessment twice  – my personality type did not change. I am considered an ENTP.  I enjoyed reading what an ENTP’s strengths and weaknesses.  And, frankly that is me in a nutshell.  Tonight I did a little more research on ENTP’s and this wikipedia reference really resonated with me… “ENTPs are quick to see complex interrelationships between people, things, and ideas.”  I really enjoy listening and learning about new topics/ideas and seeing how they relate to my work….

However, this week I am struggling a bit.  Our district recently switched to the Marzano Framework for Teaching/Learning (Pdf of the criteria).  I will admit.  When I look at the teacher side of the framework – I can see exactly where technology has a role.  There isnt a single domain, element that is not relevant to edtech and I can easily provide samples/examples where edtech has a place for each!

BUT, this year, I am being assessed on the Marzano District Leadership Framework (learning map – PDF). This is where I struggle.  Usually I can see relationships of ideas/content to my role and edtech. But I am having a difficult time relating the leadership elements to myself. It is  very frustrating that I can not see the link!  I took the self assessment in iObservation and found that I could barely relate to the scales and wound up in the “Developing” mark in many of the elements.    This assessment does not correlate to my StrengthsFinder assessment or my MeyersBriggs self assessment.   I can look at our strategic plan – and immediately relate to what I can do to improve myself and my department to support our organization.  But, it is not very clear with the Marzano side.  This is a time where I would LOVE to communicate with people like me.  Tech Directors who are using and being evaluated on this same framework.  Know of any?

While I share frustration – my growth mindset says – keep moving forward.  Eventually it will make sense.  I hope I can look at this blog post 6mos and realize where I went wrong in my thinking. Can’t wait for that lightbulb moment!