What’s Your Summer Learning Plan?

It’s hard to think of summer when I awoke to large, fluffy snow flakes accumulating quickly on the ground this morning. And yes, it is May 3. Whether you’re staying in town, going on a traveling expedition, or spending time with your family and friends, it seems as educators we always find ways to integrate some kind of learning into our lives. Although summer is consider a break or holiday, teachers still find the time to do what they do best: learn!

Continuing with my own learning, I joined the vibrant twitter #satchatwc chat this morning focusing on summer goals and learning plans. Below I’ve summarized our discussion:

Question #1: Summer provides a great opportunity for us to focus on our own new learning. What’s on top of your list to learn this summer?

Question #2: What learning opportunities are you making available for staff this summer? Share topics and any innovative practices.

Question #3: Share your recommendations – What book and/or blogger do you think is a “must read” for the rest of us? Why?

Question #4: How about for our students? What are you doing or what do recommend to keep students engaged in learning this summer?

Question #5: What would an ideal day of learning look like for you this summer?

The last question asked about non-educational plans for the summer and of course many answers consisted of spending time with family members. The great ideas in this chat made me think about what my summer plan is. What do I want to learn this summer and how do I want to grow? This will be the first summer in years, that I won’t be traveling to an exotic place, and as much as that aches me, instead I am embarking on a new journey of starting my masters. Continuing and expanding my learning is something I’ve always wanted to do, but hadn’t the time. Having to be in town for my sister’s wedding and family visits seemed like the perfect opportunity. A great balance of educational and fun!

Regardless of if you have plans, or are trying to build some now, I challenge you to do something for yourself. Take control of your own learning and follow the path you desire. You may be surprised with where it leads you.

Sharing Students’ Stories

Every student comes to us with a different story, a different life, and different experiences. No two are alike. It’s our job to learn their stories, which can be a challenging task on its own, but also allow that to influence our teaching. The best teachers are the ones who build strong relationships with their students, so without knowing students’ stories, it is impossible.

As we develop an understanding of each of our students, and help them to become the best learners they can be, we need to give them opportunities to share what they have learned: To become advocates and authors of their own stories. In this technology day in age, the abilities for students to share their stories are endless. As teachers we need to provide meaningful ways for this to occur. What would it look like? How can it be meaningful and personalized?

This morning I participated in the twitter chat, #satchatwc and was provided with an ample amount of opinions, ideas, and resources from an incredible PLN. I thought I would share these with everyone else, to encourage teachers to develop a voice for each of their students.

Question #1: What is it about stories that inspire us?

Question #2: Why is it so important to tell the story of our students?

Question #3: How do you include student voice in telling the story of your school?

Question #4: How do we grow our circles so others are telling the great stories of students through social media?

Question #5: What are the best digital tools for telling the great story of students?

As you can see there is a comprehensive list of the best digital story telling tools. Whatever you choose to use is your choice, but just remember to find a way to share your students’ stories. The impact is more powerful than you know!

Here are a few more resources you can check out:

Bam Radio
CBE: 64 Days of Learning
List of Digital Story Telling Tools

Are You an Enlightened Leader?

Leaders exist all around us; administrators, teachers, students, parents. They are able to create sparks, challenge thinking, and support others in their passions and fears. But what makes a leader great? Is it the way in which they deal with difficulties? Their ability to persevere in challenging times? The strong bonds and relationships they form with others?

I recently came across an article by Sam LeDeaux that highlights the differences between leaders and managers. It’s clear that leaders are ones who inspire, trust, empower, and reflect. They take on responsibilities, do what’s right, and create a climate of safety and care. All of these things may sound simple to achieve, but are they?

Today, I participated in #satchatwc on twitter, whose focus was on leadership. It was an excellent chat filled with ideas and opinions about what enlightened leadership looks like, and the qualities that a leader has in our modern day. Here’s a brief summary of the ideas shared with my PLN:

Question #1: How have the requirements for leadership changed in our current times? What has changed…what stays the same?

Question #2: Enlightened leaders aren’t afraid to take risks. What motivates them to do so?

Question #3: What qualities are necessary for leading in our modern times?

Question #4: How do enlightened leaders motivate other to do new and innovative work?

Question #5: What actions are leaders taking to motivate creativity and innovations at all levels, from technology to risk taking?

Question #6: All leaders face challenges. How do enlightened leaders respond to them? What makes their responses different/unique?

Clearly, the definition and role of an enlightened leader are something to uphold to. In order to be this kind of leader, you need to possess a variety of skills, which help to create an environment of caring and encouraging within your school. Although to some they may sound unattainable, these kinds of leaders exist all around us. They help us to recognize our skills and passions, embrace risks and failures, and provide positive feedback and learning opportunities. They build strong, trusting relationships with their colleagues, and encourage collaboration. They are all around us. Are you one of them?

PLN: Why You Need One

headthink

Being new to twitter this year, I was unfamiliar to the PLN acronym and what exactly it meant and stood for. PLN is a personal/professional learning network. A way in which you can learn from others, share your ideas and thoughts, develop a support system, have your ideas challenged, and continue to expand your growth as an educator.

Today, I participated in #satchatwc and was excited to be a part of the PLN discussion. Here’s some of the amazing thoughts surrounding PLNs.

Question #1: What is a personal learning network?

Question #2: Why are PLN’s beneficial to educators?

Question #3: With social media PLNs, how can we ensure open and honest dialogue in a public forum?

Question #4: With social media PLNs, what are the benefits/cautions of learning with people you have never met?

Question #5: How do you model digital leadership on SM? As educators, should we be concerned about expressing our voice?

Question #6: How can we include more educators in our PLNs (even those skeptical of social media)?

From this chat, my beliefs and understandings of PLNs was further reinforced by the many educators participating. Although at times we may be hesitant, scared, or nervous to try new things, you always need to remember there are people out there to support. Developing or even starting a PLN is an excellent way to share all the great things that you do. It provides an opportunity to learn from others and expand your knowledge. I believe that with the desire to be a great educator, you must also be a life-long learner: willing to be challenged, valued, and to foster new ideas. A PLN is an important aspect in being a life-long learner, expanding your teaching practicing, and being the best teacher you can be.

Are You a Leader?

Lying in bed on a Saturday morning, attempting to sleep in but annoyed with my automatic body clock, I resorted to my phone and checked out what was happening on twitter. Before I knew it, I was immersed into a chat, nothing of which I had planned, and let me tell you, on an iphone is not ideal. The chat however, was excellent! Full of questions, ideas, answers, and opinions about what educational leadership looks like in today’s schools. Here is a mini storify of some of the comments that had the discussion going:

All of these questions and thoughts had me wondering, what is a leader? What defines one? I think often we look to our admin as ways to lead to our school, but being a teacher, we are leaders as well. We are role models to our students, which is an important role. So where do we learn to become a leader? Who attributes to your leadership skills?

The dictionary defines a leaders as “someone who leads.” Someone who shows the way down a path. Clearly, this definition is vague, and after this #satchatwc it became clear to me as to what most educators define a leader as. A leader is someone who:
– takes risks
– is fearless
– steps outside their comfort zone
– has a willingness to learn
– communicates and praises others
– models excellence
– develops a strong PLN
– listens
– shows empathy and understanding

These are the characteristics that we would want in our admin, and what we should strive to be as teachers. Maybe we all need to reevaluate and ask ourselves, “Am I a leader?”