Check Out Some Projects I Have Been Working On

South Jersey is often overlooked when people think about the state of NJ.  Educational decisions are always made up north and the meetings where they take place are never close!  A group of professionals decided to band together to help support each other and create the ability for more educational technology events and awareness to be housed in our area.  Check out the South Jersey Ed Tech website here!

I also one of the organizers (along with many awesome people) for Chromecamp 2018!  My district will host educators from all over the region for a Saturday morning of awesomeness!  Check out our event here, and register now!

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Experiences vs Tasks: Part 2 (My Perspective as a Teacher)

Three weeks ago I ended Part 1 of “Experiences vs Tasks” with this:

Writing about my experiences has been an experience itself.  I never thought to put it all in writing.  Granted, this is not everything, but take a look at the stories I shared.  How many have anything to do with curriculum?  Not many, right?  The ones that do, come from special teachers, teachers that I loved having.  Teachers that understood that experiences are what create a learning environment that will foster memories that will stand the test of time.  I challenge you to reflect on your experiences.  It should be easy since you will not be able to remember the tasks.  You will probably have a few special projects, painful moments, or you might not be able to remember that much at all.

The goal for educators is to provide as many experiences as possible at every grade level.  When our students are grandparents talking to their family about their school days, they should have a list that is long and exciting.  My list may not be that long, yet.  For, I am still a learner and part of those experiences involve my teaching career. Part 2 of this post will include my honest reflection about the experiences and tasks that I gave my students.  Understanding my strengths and weaknesses will only make me stronger.

I currently work as an Academic Innovations and STEM Coordinator.  My job is to help teachers create experiences.  So, my current job is awesome, but I have to reflect on how hard it is for a classroom teacher with so many responsibilities, technicalities, and red tape that they encounter.  My first few years as a teacher included a healthy mix of experiences and tasks.  I followed the rules that non-tenured teachers typically follow.  This means you stick to the curriculum and try not to make too much noise.  Well, that is not really who I am!  I admit that I gave a lot of tasks, meaningless work, and even more meaningless homework.  I tried to create experiences.  They weren’t perfect, but I tried.  I don’t remember all of my students’ names, but I keep in touch with a few who are now juniors in college or work in an environment we dub the “real world”.  My hope is that I created something worthwhile for them during the time they spent with me.

I have paused this post now for a few days not knowing what to say.  To be honest I still don’t.  I can sit here tell you about the projects I have done, my questioning strategies used, and the rapport I built with students.  The problem with that is this:  Everyone is talking about the great stuff they do or did, and others read it or hear it.  It most likely ends there.  Talk is cheap, make something happen.  So, my post has shifted.  My experience as a teacher is exactly why my current position exists.

TEACHERS NEED SUPPORT

My experience as a teacher is not one I want any teacher to have moving forward.  No one ever came into my room to teach a lesson, offer support, or do research for me.  That’s what I do and what I think most administrators should do.  We need to stop judging students on what they cannot do and we also need to stop judging our teachers.  No book, video, or tweet is going to change their world.  However, if you have the spark, if you have the drive, if you are the change… Then you need to provide the experience that spawns future experiences in classrooms alike.  I am taking baby steps and this week I saw head nods from teachers when I visited their room.  I had teachers asking me to come back, students too, and experiences were being born.  So, here’s my challenge.  If you observe a classroom that is task oriented, do something about it.  If you observe yourself teaching a class of bored kids, do something about it.  Not sure what to do?  Ask someone.  No one to ask?  Talk your students.  I bet they will give you plenty to talk about, learn about, and experience.

#ExperienceEdu

 

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The #1 Reason Educators Stop Blogging…

I like to blog.  At least I think I do, and I haven’t even done it that long.  I’m a noob, shoobie, socks with sandals, or any other term you call a late to the party individual. I have heard in some circles that blogging has become passé, but we as educators still encourage our students to reflect.  So, blogging as a form of reflection should never end in my world of educational theory.  I have seen plenty of websites or blogs die around me.  They were classmates of mine, a few colleagues at work, and even some high profile individuals I look up to.  I’m sure everyone has a reason they stop blogging.  I’m also sure that my #1 reason is a prediction and not a guarantee.  I’ll give a top 10, but I would love to hear other reasons.   

10. Time.  Everyone is busy.  I get it, why share your thoughts or ideas with the world if all that matters is getting through the work day and home life. The funny thing is, blogging can take minutes, even seconds, and provide you an escape from that time warp.  Don’t quit!

9. $$$. How many edu bloggers out there thought their website would be incredibly unique? Lead to a book?  Maybe you would get so many page views, you would collect paid advertisements?  You blog a bit and nothing happens!  Pipe dreams are great to have, but you shouldn’t get into blogging to build a business.  I know plenty of educators who have, and if it happens, awesome!  Let it happen is my point, don’t force it, don’t expect it.  If you’re the bomb, I’m sure you’ll blow up!

8. Self-doubt.   You write and you open your heart or classroom.  Maybe in your grade level, school, or even district, it’s groundbreaking.  Then you hit up Google and realize other teachers did the same thing 3 years ago.  Don’t worry about what other people did.  If it’s new to your students and it benefits them, then you did something amazing. 

7.  Lack of Material.  I find this to be quite popular.   Many blogs and websites from educators start because of mandates, course requirements, or self proclamations.   The posts come firing out of the gates and then……….  Don’t give up friends. 

6.  Absence of Vision.  You can’t start blogging and just speak your mind day in and day out.  Sure it would be cool, but what else will your website evolve into.  EXAMPLE:  I’m writing this post to help fellow bloggers who may be giving up.  

5.  Peer Pressure.  I’ll never forget my first year as a teacher sitting in a union meeting. I was indirectly told to STOP maintaining an updated and “followable” classroom webpage (10 years ago). Why you may ask?  If parents or administrators liked it, “we” would all have to do it.  I have seen that mindset pass in my district, but I’m sure others still face it.  It’s always hard to be the teacher celebrity in any school.  Don’t believe the haters!

4.  Poor Marketing.  You want people to read your blog?  You can’t make a website and expect people to magically find it!  Who are you telling or asking to check your posts?  Do you have subscription option? Are you Tweeting or blasting out your amazing thoughts?  If you build it, they will only come if you have a gigantic blinking light over it!

3.  Administration.  I’m an administrator, but I call myself an educator.  I’ll go on a whim and say that not all educators have a support system that allows them the avenue to voice their educational beliefs.  My position is about innovation, allowing teachers the ability to blog is powerful.  The key as writers is to assure you are not voicing a negative opinion about the school district.  Allow teachers a voice.  

2.  Success.  It’s easy to quit when you are at the top.  You experience a bunch of visitors to your site and you made it.  Why experience downside or defeat?  Finishing on top is the best, right?  We love to see a retiring quarterback walk away from a Super Bowl victorious.  What better way to say you were a successful blogger?  End your posts and walk away.  Don’t stop if you become an instant sensation.  We as educators need you. We need every voice with an idea and amazing voice.  I bank on bloggers and tweeters with 100 followers and 100k followers.  

1. Lack of Audience.  Many educators don’t think anyone besides their relatives, graduate school professors, or sympathetic colleagues are reading their posts.  Of those checking, they probably don’t even read the post (but a page view is a win regardless!).  We live in a status checking frenzy of a world. Guilty as charged right here.  I’m curious if my thoughts and writings are going beyond my fingertips and eyes, but I keep on blogging!
If you stopped blogging.  You probably stopped reading blogs too.  So, the beauty of my post is that if you are reading this your blog heart is still beating.   Don’t give up!  Keep sharing your awesomeness. 

#180brags #htslearning #pvslearns

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Check Out My Article on ASCD!

Over the summer I worked on an article to represent my district and our efforts to implement student edcamps.  Check it out!  Sparking Engagement with Student Edcamps

#StudentEdCamps #180Brags #pvslearns

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