Wednesday, April 30, 2014


An oldie, but a goodie. As I go through my classrooms and monitor teachers and students, I see a lot of great things. However, when I go onto Twitter, I see examples of many great teaching moments as well. The difference is some of those teachers have thousands of followers and others clamor to hear them speak. Though they are innovative teachers, what makes them more "follow-worthy" than the teachers doing innovative things who aren't on Twitter.

Of course, an argument can be made for why educators should be connected....

There have become two worlds - the worlds of innovation many of my teachers live in and the worlds of innovation Twitter users live in. When I speak to my teachers, many view Twitter as a separate land. They do not know the innovators on Twitter just as the innovators on Twitter do not know my teachers.

But, is either "world" more worthy of presenting or speaking? And, who are those on Twitter preaching to? The ones already connected? What about the ones who aren't connected? So, yes, the Twitter innovators are innovating and the have thousands of followers, but aren't those people already innovating (they're at least connected)?

So, my question is - how can we award those teachers who innovate but aren't active on Twitter and how can we help make Twitter more representative of an actual school make-up? It seems to be a battle I've had since I started trying to innovate education. How can we join the two worlds?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hooking teachers in late spring

Burn out. Exhaustion. Test fatigue.

I see it on the staff's faces. Attendance at my bi-weekly tech talks is starting to dwindle. I feel it my self - tired.

From the Economist:

But, the school year must go on and we must continue to innovate and give our students the best education possible. So, how do we do it? How do we continue to capture teachers' interest while our own focus and their students' drive is dwindling?

Or, is the question: how do we get ourselves to avoid the burnout and exhaustion associated with late spring?

In my experience, it has been through:
  1. Virtual PD - (like our district's PD in your PJs) where educators can watch and learn at their own pace and get those inspirational ideas without all the hubbub.
  2. Networking - either through Twitter, Google +, or any environment that shows the great things other teachers are doing - without the general drain of your school.
  3. Informal learning opportunities - finding excuses to help teachers in their day-to-day lives (relieving testing, etc.) while using it as a chance to help them innovate
  4. Finding their needs and meeting them - seems basic, but it is often overlooked. Rather than presenting on topics that you deem important, let me dictate what topics they want to know and meet those needs for them
  5. Avoid overwhelming - this is my most difficult area. As exciting as things are, we must not overload teachers with too many ideas - especially at this time of the year. Instead, select a couple of ideas that could be introduced in this last bit of school and save the rest for the summer or fall. "Baby Steps." 

So, Try the Five steps to avoid teacher burn-out. Please share any other ideas you may have as well!