AMLE Twitter event #MLEM13 on 3-28-13

Tonight I was part of a twitter panel for Middle Level Education Month. The discussion was about PD and Affiliates. Discussion centered around how PD should be done to be most effective. Great panel of experts. Here is the link to the archive of the chat. 

EdCamp Style PD for school PD – Take the risk

Today it happened!! Our school took a slice of its regularly scheduled PD time and made a small change. Teachers signed up to share. Share something they are doing in their classroom that works. Something that they feel would help others. The staff then could choose a location to attend 4 or 5 of these mini-PD session. Sessions ranged from computer applications to be used in the classrooms to procedures to how to create a calm climate for learning.

Our principal took a risk by allowing the staff to guide their learning. I feel it let the silent stars shine. Teachers who usually are quiet took center stage. Shared what was working for them, and slow drifted back to silence. Sharing gave the staff power to decide what they felt ours might want. It gave our staff respect, by allowing us to pick what sessions we wanted to attend. It gave our staff power over their own learning. Ultimately it gave our staff, a nice feeling inside as we head into spring break and down the home stretch of the year. To top it all off our assistant principal felt we needed a snack after work before soaking in the PD so she prepared a “Tater” bar with all the fixings, for the entire staff to snack on as they soaked in the Edcamp style session.

Why I like twitter to be a connected educator!

Two years ago, I thought Twitter was  source of gossip. Filled with advertising, celebrities and people who just wanted to be up on the current rumors and goings on in Hollywood.

After having a conversation with a fellow teacher while eating chicken wings and watching the NCAA tournament, I was convinced to give it a second look. It started slow. I didn’t know who to follow. What to do. After spending some time as a lurker ( sometimes even feeling dirty for doing so). I started participating. I participated in chats. I developed relationships.

Yes, relationships. I meet people online and engaged in meaningful conversations. Fellow teachers were sharing what was going on in their classrooms. I listened, learned and then started sharing my story. Looking for a chat for middle level educators, I noticed a void. After some pushes and promises of help from friends. #MSCHAT was started in August of 2012. My network of educators has grown from the 40 teachers in my building to the hundreds or even thousands I interact with on Twitter.

Now as I approach 10,000 tweet milestone, I have been asked why twitter? Why not Facebook, Tumbr, Google + or any other online community? Twitter is simple. I don’t need to write or produce many things. Just 148 characters. I can lurk if I don’t want to be seen. My activity is not judged by logins, posts or friendships. It is an on-demand PLN, no strings attached. Best of all Twitter is kind, caring and helpful. I can’t remember an unkind word, discouragement, or rudeness on Twitter from educators. Everyone is helpful. They will point you in the right direction if they can’t help. I feel it is a wonderful community of learners, working together to become better educators.

I always say their are a million ways to skin a cat. Twitter is my preferred way to connect as an educator. Try it! If you don’t find it to your liking, there are many other ways to connect.

Computer Mandate too much for MDs?

I was reading the Detroit News today and one article stuck in my mind. It was about Michigan doctors complaining about computer mandates.  The article states that doctors have many issues to keep up with to help care for their patients and feel that the The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 might be to onerous for them to keep up with. I understand their concerns. Technology is hard to keep up with and changes all the time. Government mandates do get in the way with people trying to do their jobs as best they can and how the are trained.

Wait a minute, I am a teacher. I have had to keep up with ever changing technology since I started teaching. Many of the tools I use in my classroom were not even invented yet. Teachers are mandated to change all the time. In fact in 12 years of teaching Middle School my curriculum has changed 3-times. When teachers complain, they say we are lazy, under-worked and overpaid union members. Does diagnosing the flu or setting a broken arm change this often?

I truly respect Doctors. I come from a family full of them. Does their complaint about technology merit a front page story? NO way. Keep up or hire someone who can. So many other industries have kept up. Why is it in our society expectations are so different? Most professionals work hard and keep up with the ever changing society. The medical field does need to update. It might be hard. Look at what teachers have been going through for the past few years.

The time and costs stated in the article are real. They are the same time and costs education has been paying to keep up. The main difference is the education field has seen serve cuts to public funding. The medical field is primarily funded by its consumers, us. Medical prices have gone up due to these mandates to pay for them.

Detroit News if you are going to write this article, you should have been at the MACUL conference to talk to educators that have made this type transition through hard work.

Teacher Rock Stars?

I have been hearing of the concept of “Teacher Rock Stars” on twitter lately. I really wonder what it is about. I feel so many teachers do great things. Teachers have to be engaging, playing to a captive audience. So are teachers “Jailhouse Rock Stars”? 

Many teachers are stars that don’t want to shine in public. I talk to so many teachers that feel that “it is my job to get the best and perform at the highest level, I don’t need to make it public or get attention.” Just like the garage/indie band that plays awesome music that few hear the music. Education has thousands of teachers that produce incredible results, that are never recognized as stars in their field. 

It would be a novel concept to have a tour bus travel from school to school filled with incredible teachers presenting engaging lessons. This would create one-time learning events. Is that what society wants? Society needs modeling that presents life-long learning is needed by ALL. Society also needs to recognize it takes all types of music to make the world go around.

Some teachers will be the popular stars of the day, like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. Students will flock to their classes and not want to leave. Others will be focused on the classics like Elvis or the Beatles. Students might not like sweating to the oldies but society dictates that this education is also needed and valued. A few teachers might venture into the unknown and find new techniques that amaze learners and challenge the status quo.

All teachers are “rock stars” since they have dedicated their lives to making a difference in children’s lives. Teachers expose students to many different types of music, challenging them to find one to emulate. 

If only teachers could be paid like rock stars!!