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The Emotional Roller Coaster of Being a Teacher

The Principal of Change George Couros - 30 November, 2016 - 09:25

This time of year can be emotionally exhausting, so here is something that might brighten up your day.

Watch this GIF of a dad teaching his son to hit a baseball and tells him to “keep his eye on the ball”:

“Keep your eye on the ball son”

I laughed hysterically at this when I first saw it, and then thought about how hard it is to be a teacher. The emotional roller coaster that a teacher can go on in a single day, hour, minute, is exemplified in this post.

Watch it again:

“Keep your eye on the ball son”

What do you see in a short span with the dad?

I see the following…





All things teachers can feel in a matter of seconds.

Thank you teachers for all that you do. I know that this is insanely tough job, but I appreciate all that you do to not only get your kids better, but to become better yourselves.  The hardest part of being a teacher is knowing that you will never truly know the full impact of what you do. Just know that the best teachers make a difference.

Continue to be the positive moment that kids will remember years from now.

Categories: Planet

What Does Supportive Teacher Centered Professional Development Look Like?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 29 November, 2016 - 12:56

Research Spotlight with Dr. Matthew Kraft

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

When a teacher first starts teaching, we know that their learning improves dramatically. Learning to be a good teacher will happen in just about any school during those first few years. But, over time there are schools where teachers keep learning. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in most schools. In this episode, we will study some important research that shows us the type of schools where teachers continue to learn how to be a better teacher. This is a very important show for curriculum directors, professional developers, and especially principals.

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes 

However, don’t think that teachers have no control. When we teachers begin to think differently and connect with other teachers who have a can-do attitude, we can change things. Remember, teachers, you can decide to learn. Just by banding together and supporting each other, we can make a huge difference, as you’ll learn.

Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz Bloomz is your one-stop solution for parent-teacher communications. More than just connecting with their cell phones, you can send long or short messages. You can share pictures and links. You can even coordinate volunteer schedules, donations, and parent-teacher conferences. I’m using Bloomz in my classroom.

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Show Notes: Dr. Matthew Kraft
  • Put simply, the research found that teachers improve at much faster rates when they work in school that provide supportive professional environments.
  • 6 dimensions of strong professional work environments
    1. Schools that had orderly and clear discipline rules
    2. Schools that had frequent and high quality peer collaboration
    3. Schools that had supportive and responsive school leadership
    4. Schools were there were sustained and context specific professional development opportunities
    5. Schools that had strong cultures characterized by mutual trust and respect
    6. Schools where evaluations provided meaningful feedback that teachers could use to improvie their practice
  • Not only do individual teachers matter, but the school context in which those teachers work also matters … for student learning.
  • Without these supportive professional environments, teachers are not able to deliver the most effective instruction and improve on the job as well as they might be able to otherwise.
Today’s notes were compiled by my research assistant, Lisa Durff. Thank you, Lisa!

Who is Matthew Kraft?

Matthew Kraft @MatthewAKraftis an Assistant Professor of Education and Economics at Brown University. He studies human capital policies in education with a focus on teacher effectiveness and organizational change in K-12 urban public schools.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. If this show meant something to you, will you leave a review?

The post What Does Supportive Teacher Centered Professional Development Look Like? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for a Top-Notch Blended Learning Classroom

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 29 November, 2016 - 12:11

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Blended Learning is a method of learning where online classrooms blend with the face to face classroom. During this month's free webinar I'll be taking you inside my blended learning classroom with a practical view on what works.  Register nowFREE Blended Learning Best Practices Webinar Wednesday, November 30, 20164:30 pm - 5:30 pm EST​ / […]

The post FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for a Top-Notch Blended Learning Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

“Telling will never be as effective as experiencing.”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 28 November, 2016 - 10:37


In my consulting work with Winnipeg School Division (#WinnipegSD), we have developed a program in which we develop “Innovative Teaching and Learning Leads” (ITLLs). The purpose of this program is to focus not only what innovative teaching and learning looks like, but also to develop teachers as leaders to support the process within their schools.

When we asked schools to designate a person for this opportunity, there was only two things that we shared as criteria:

  1. They have influence with staff.
  2. They are open to new learning.

That’s it.

Unfortunately when many organizations hear the word “innovation”, they see it as synonymous with technology.  Now technology can be crucial to innovation, but it is not innovation in itself.  Innovation is about creating new and better opportunities. Simple.

In our last session, we started by asking the following three questions:

  1. What is one thing that has challenged you in this program?
  2. What has been reaffirmed?
  3. What are you doing moving forward?

Using these questions as a basis of conversation, sparked some great learning with small groups and the larger group as a whole.  Because of this, the original plan for the day was shifted to meet the needs of the group.  I threw out plans and we redirected to dig deeper into portfolios, what they could look like, and how they can make an impact on learning. Here are some things that we did to change the shape of the day.

  1. We started off with an extended lunch break to blog. Instead of giving an hour for lunch, we gave two hours, with the expectation that a blog post for their portfolio was done at the end of the time. We also told the group that they could leave the premises and go to a space that would be most conducive to them writing a blog post.  Accountability was built into this process because they had to be effective with time management as we were all going to look at each other’s blogs when we reconvened.
  2. When they came back, they added their blog to a google document, that put their name, twitter handle, title with a link to their blog, and the topic, along with any other comments that they had.  Now everyone in the group could see what the other wrote.
  3. After they added their blog to the google document, I added a column at the end that said “commented on”.  They were now tasked with commenting to three other participant blogs, but after they were done, they added their name to show where they commented.  The rule was to NOT comment on a blog if you already saw three other comments. This way, we did our best to ensure that everyone had a comment.  We also clarified that comments like “great job!”, were not enough.  The comment should encourage discussion and have the author write more.
  4. We then took time to discuss the process with each other in our groups. Both the good and the bad.  And although it was mostly good, there were some negatives as well. This is also important to understand through the process as you can further understand this process with students.
  5. To end the day, I gave the group a few minutes to pick a blog post that resonated with them, and to talk for 15-20 seconds about them in the group. The first name would be called out randomly, they would acknowledge another person’s blog, and then that person, would acknowledge another person in the room.  This meant that people were not expected to only read each other’s blogs, but try to understand them.

This process (developed on the fly because of the group), was a beautiful thing. It was also a reminder that some of the best learning can happen in a session if you are flexible and open to the organic process of learning.

Two things that are really important to understand through this process that was connected to the ITLL program. First of all, they understand the power of portfolios by using and learning in their own process. I have long contended that education is not using digital portfolios to anywhere near their potential because you have a lot of people trying to teach something they have never learned! Talking to some of the teachers, they were deathly afraid of putting their thinking out into the world, and then they were so excited to get a comment on their blogs. It was fascinating to see their change in the process just by giving them embedded time in the day.

This leads into the second point. I wanted to make the explicit connection to how the day probably looked a lot different from your usual “staff day”, as we wanted to not only engage, but empower learners, and by giving them control of how they used their own time, that was embedded into the day, how did this help them in designing learning time with their own staff?  I have long believed that one of the best ways to change learning in the classrooms, is to change learning in our professional learning days. This is something that I have written about extensively in “The Innovator’s Mindset“, but my friend Katie Martin also articulates so beautifully.

When teachers have ownership over their learning, and experience what powerful learning can look like, it changes things in their classrooms.  The amazing thing is that changing this learning changes me as a facilitator as well, because I see the power of embedding this time, which to some can seem “non-structured”, but is very deliberately planned and thought out. Telling will never be as effective as experiencing. If we believe this, we have to change what professional learning can look like in our staff days, not just the conferences we attend.

Categories: Planet

How Fast Can You Sort a Deck of Cards?

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 28 November, 2016 - 09:21

OK I admit it – sorting fascinates me. No, really it does. OF course it is also an important topic for computer science classes. CS Unplugged has a lot of resources for teaching/learning sorting algorithms. Hadi Partovi of Code.Org shared a link for a very cool Sorting Algorithms Animations web page. They're all pretty cool. It’s nice to have multiple tools in your toolbox for something like this. Recently I tried something new with my freshmen.

I asked my students who thought they could sort a deck of cards the fastest. Could they do it faster as an individual or as part of a team? Freshmen being freshmen there were several who thought they could do it faster as an individual. Others liked the team idea. So tried it. I took out a deck of cards and shuffled it. Then I timed a student as they sorted it. BTW the first discussion was “what does sorting a deck of cards mean?” Is it all Aces followed by all twos or is it Ace to King of one suit followed by Ace to King of the next suit? Does the order of the suits matter? All important questions that open the door to conversation about sorting.

Setting teams of students to the task is interesting in different ways. Using a team allows for some parallelism in the process. Most teams start with one person separating the cards by suit with the other team members sorting each individual suit. A really good team might split up the deck for the initial sorting by suit.  A good conversation can be had about those different techniques. One of the best discussions I have had involve asking why using four people is not four times as fast as only one person.

Everyone softs things from time to time but no one seems to think about it much. It is one of those things people just do. Thinking and talking about it is the first step towards doing to better. Using something common place like a deck of cards while looking closely about what is going on seems to be a good learning tool. Anyone else doing something like that? I’d love to hear other ideas.

(As an aside: the deck I used was the Notable Women in Tech Cards. I have the poster version on my lab wall as well. Good conversation starter.)

Categories: Planet

Playing with Habits of Mind — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 27 November, 2016 - 18:02


  • What are the mindful habits of successful learners and how can an understanding of these habits help us better achieve our learning goals? This is the question Art Costa Bena Kallick set out to answer with their study of the Habits of Mind. In 'Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind' Costa and Kallick identify sixteen habits which when utilised promote deeper understanding, unlock creativity, encourage reflective thinking and scaffold problem solving for individuals and groups.  - Nigel Coutts

Tags: habits, mind, education, teaching, learning

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Programming vs. Computer Science

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 27 November, 2016 - 05:19

Programming is not the same thing as computer science. But of course they are related. For example, knowing how to use the following arrays is programming. Knowing which one is more efficient and why is computer science. Especially if you know that the answer starts with “it depends.”

int[,] myNumbers = new int[50, 3];
int[,] yourNumbers = new int[3, 50];

Just a thought for the day.

Categories: Planet

Learning to Unlearn

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 25 November, 2016 - 13:44

It is astounding to think that nearly every week there is an education conference happening somewhere covering all aspects of schooling. Many of these have become big business but regardless of size or popularity, most conferences aim to facilitate learning. We attend conferences to acquire new knowledge or skills with the intent of learning and improving our work.

Learning is at  core to the teaching profession – we strive to create (school) cultures and (teaching) practices that encourage rigorous thinking and life-long learning.  We’re all about the learning but what about the unlearning?

Twenty five years ago Alvin Toffler claimed that the illiterate of the 21st century would not be those who can’t read and write but those who cannot ‘learn, unlearn and relearn’.  The Oxford dictionary states that to unlearn is to ‘discard something learned, especially a bad habit or false or outdated information from one’s memory. So the pressing question is how do we let go of the things that keep us rooted in ineffective and industrial practices and mindsets? Where are the conferences and courses that facilitate unlearning?  Can we call ourselves a literate profession if we are not in the business of learning, unlearning and relearning?

To be fair, the educational system we inherited was designed to promote compliance over critical thinking. There has never really been incentive or time to collectively challenge bad habits and outdated practices because of the efficiency of the current model.  The first step is to recognise that as a profession (and society) we need to unlearn what we know about schooling in order to relearn how to do schooling in a very different way.  It’s no longer about collective efficiency (of learning), it’s about collective efficacy (unlearning).  We need to remove the hierarchies that exist in schools and create agile networks where knowledge and skills are learned, unlearned and relearned.

I’m not alone in my thinking here.  In 2009, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited (AITSL) published an article in its Teaching Australia newsletter titled ‘Unlearning in the 21st Century’. The article quoted Professor Erica Mc William who challenged the teaching profession to move beyond the best practice of the 20th century to envisioning ‘next’ practice for the 21st century.

While we could be waiting a while for the ‘unlearning’ courses and conferences, we have the opportunity to become innovative next practitioners today.



Categories: Planet
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