Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Your passion can be your worst enemy...

So, here's the scenario:

You excitedly start to share that great new idea you have and you immediately get this feeling that everyone around you is shutting down.

You continue to share the why and the how behind the great idea but you can't seem to make a connection.

By the time it's all said and done the audience has checked out and they are thinking about something else.

You start to reflect on what happened.

Did I say something wrong or was my approach off?

Was I mistaken in that the idea is really not that great?

Did I fail to explain the process properly and was everyone confused about the actual approach?
Was my passion and excitement too much and did I end up scaring everyone off?

You then begin to realize that this scenario has unfortunately played out before and that this isn't the first great idea to be dead upon arrival.

Now, perhaps it was a terrible presentation of the idea and perhaps it wasn't the right time for this idea.

But, for those who are super passionate and excited to share new ideas and new approaches, be cautious because it's that passion and excitement that can kill an idea before it even has a chance.

It may be hard to accept, but your passion doesn't always equate to someone else being as excited and as passionate about the same idea.

In fact, one's excitement can be a turn off as it can make some uncomfortable and uneasy.

Don't lose that excitement and passion, but do be aware of your audience and the appropriate time and place to let your passion shine...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

10 non-negotiable leadership qualities

1). A great leader will stand up for his/her teammates... even when they may be wrong. A great leader will praise and support in public, and will correct and advise in private.

2). A great leader trusts you to do what you were hired to do. A great leader doesn't have the time nor the interest in micro-managing everything you do and everything you say.

3). A great leader knows lifting others up will be far more effective than tearing them down. A great leader offers a hand of assistance rather than a voice full of anger and disappointment.

4). A great leader makes you better and puts you in positions that align with your strengths. A great leader makes you better by modeling and asking great thought-provoking questions.
5). A great leader knows there is always something more to learn. A great leader doesn't hesitate to say 'I don't know.' A great leader takes sharpening the saw very seriously.

6). A great leader knows he/she doesn't have to be right all the time. In fact, being wrong is a worthwhile and humbling experience great leaders don't fear. A great leader focuses on winning the war, not on winning the battle.

7). A great leader will never hold you back or prevent you from growing and developing. A great leader isn't afraid of the success of others; a great leader takes pride in the success of others.

8). A great leader isn't afraid to make a decision when a decision needs to be made. A great leader doesn't shy away from difficult situations, they capitalize on the opportunities that come out of difficult situations.

9). A great leader will take a chance if he/she believes the risk/reward ratio warrants it. A great leader is never reckless, but a great leader doesn't fear taking a chance.

10). A great leader is always looking for a person to replace them. A great leader isn't just worried about the organization at present, but also in the future and beyond. A great leader knows sustainable and long-term success are better than short-term and short-lived success.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

10 thoughts on grading and assessment

1). 'Teachers don't need grades or reporting forms to teach well. Further, students don't need them to learn.' via @tguskey

2). 'If you trust the validity and accuracy of your test/assessment, then you shouldn't have any problem with redos for full credit.' via @rickwormeli

3). 'Don't leave students out of the grading process. Involve students - they can - and should - play key roles in assessment and grading that promote achievement.' via @kenoc7
4). 'Nothing of consequence would be lost by getting rid of timed tests. Few tasks in life - and very few tasks in scholarship - actually depend on being able to read passages or solve math problems rapidly.' via @howard_gardner_

5). No studies support the use of low grades or marks as punishments. Instead of prompting greater effort, low grades more often cause students to withdraw from learning.' via @tguskey

6). 'A kid who says school sucks and just give me an 'F' does not have the necessary maturity level to be in charge of making his/her own educational decisions.' via @rickwormeli

7). 'Averaging falls far short of providing an accurate description of what students have learned. . . . If the purpose of grading and reporting is to provide an accurate description of what students have learned, then averaging must be considered inadequate and inappropriate.' via @tguskey

8). 'When we refuse to accept an assignment late and give a zero instead, we undermine our content and say it has no value.' via @rickwormeli

9). 'Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment; use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real level of achievement or use 'I' for Incomplete or Insufficient evidence.' via @kenoc7

10). 'If a kid never does any of the work you assign but does wonderfully well on your assessments, then it's time to evaluate the work you assign and the types of assessments you use.' via @rickwormeli

Inspirational video for educators

Monday, March 17, 2014

10 questions to ask yourself before giving an assessment

1). What's the point and purpose of the assessment?
2). Is this a preventative check-up (formative) type assessment or an autopsy (summative) type assessment?
3). Did your students have any voice and input into the assessment design and/or assessment process?
4). Are you able to assess more than one learning objective/goal with this assessment or is the assessment isolated to one specific learning objective/goal?
5). Is the assessment aligned to what you are currently teaching in a format similar to the way you've been conducting your instruction?
6). Will you provide multiple assessment formats for students to demonstrate their mastery/skills in a way of their choosing or will there be just one format? 

7). Does the assessment have a learning component to it that supplements the current learning objectives and goals?
8). Does the assessment allow for students to self-assess and track their overall understanding of the content/skills?
9). Are there a wide-range of questions at varying degrees of difficulty? What is the ratio of level 1 basic recall questions to level 4 higher order thinking questions?
10). Will you allow redos of this assessment? If not, please refer back to your answers in questions 1 and 2. Does this affect your decision not to allow redos?

Who decides when it's no longer 'optional?'

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately in regard to how professional development is conducted in schools.

Obviously I'm a huge advocate for ownership and self-directed learning because the traditional form of 'sit and get' and PD is done 'to' people rather than 'with' people has been over for quite some time now.

We know learning can and should occur beyond the walls of our own schools and the folks with whom we work on a daily basis.

We know there are experts and very knowledgeable people from all corners of the globe who are easily accessible at a few clicks of the mouse.

We know technology is and has been fundamentally changing the role of the educator and has strengthened the idea that learning is no longer limited to the four walls of a classroom.
We know there is no excuse for someone not being able to 'sharpen their own saw' if they are interested in learning more about a particular concept... the monopoly on learning has been over for a while.

So, when is the choice of using technology no longer an option?

When is the choice of reaching out to educators from around the globe to collaborate no longer an option?

When is truly differentiating classroom instruction and meetings kids where they are no longer an option?

When is taking ownership of your own professional learning and growth not a duty and responsibility of the district, but an expectation of the individual?

Sure, we can be slow and methodical in our approach and create opportunities for these shifts to happen so people don't feel overwhelmed.

But then again, who gets to be the person who talks to the students in these schools and in these classes and says sorry but we want to take our time and not rush things...?

Final thought... we also know with certainty that mandates and directives are ineffective and create a 'compliance' type environment rather than a professional environment.

So, who decides when it's no longer 'optional?'

Sunday, March 9, 2014

10 images to get you thinking: Part 4

Check out the first 10 here: Part 1

Check out the next 10 here: Part 2

Check out the next 10 here: Part 3

Friday, March 7, 2014

8 thoughts to help your classroom standout

Take one of your learning objectives and/or goals and ask your students to align it with a real-world problem or concern. Allow and encourage your students to take something they know about and care about in the world, and provide them the opportunity to help make it better. Give learning context and relevance...

Speaking of relevance... who determines in your classroom what is 'relevant?' Each student in your class has a unique and different set of life experiences, so how are we recognizing and honoring their interests. Also, as these interests change, what's relevant also changes...
If we are limiting learning to just the four walls of a classroom, then that is equivalent to buying a Lamborghini and saying you are only going to drive it in your driveway... #globalconnectedness

If we eliminated the traditional titles of 'student' and 'teacher' and replaced both with 'learner,' how would the atmosphere and culture in your classroom change?

Fast forward 5 years down the line... imagine if your former students were asked about their experience in your class. If they were asked what is one thing they did in your class that positively impacted and positively affected the world, would they have something to say?

How often are kids in your class given the opportunity to develop and work on strong and thoughtful questions. In other words, what is the ratio in your class of kids answering questions vs. kids asking questions leading to answers? The best answers come from the best questions...

Speaking of ratio... what is the ratio of consumption vs. creation in your class? How much do your students consume vs. how much do they create...?

Lastly, what makes the learning experience in your classroom standout? What makes the learning culture in your classroom unique and personalized to the needs of your students? What's your learning experience 'advantage?'

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Who determines what is 'relevant?'

We hear so often that we need to make education relevant.

We hear kids saying they aren't engaged in learning because they don't see any relevance to what is being taught.

We hear educators saying that traditional PD isn't a good use of time because it's not relevant to them.

We would all agree that a little relevance can go a long way when it comes to interest and engagement.

Here's the tricky part...

Who determines and decides what is relevant?

Who is in charge of telling a student what is relevant to them?

Who is in charge of telling a professional educator what is relevant to them?

Marbles rolling around in my head...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Will you be brave?

You come across a great idea that you want to share with your colleagues but you don't want them to judge you or think you are overstepping your bounds...

You are in a group conversation and you know what everyone is thinking but nobody is willing to speak up and say it...

You know that you are struggling in a particular area but at least it's comfortable and you know what to expect...

You've tried something new and unfortunately it flopped and didn't go over well, and now you are hesitant to try anything new again...

You've been asked to do something that comprises your morals and puts you in an extremely vulnerable position...

You've noticed that something is missing and you've been told, 'that's the way it's always been done...'

You know if you do it then others will look at you and start treating you differently...

You know it's never been done before and it's the last thing anyone is thinking of or is worried about...

Will you be brave?

10 (even more) images to get you thinking...