Be Uncomfortable.

Being uncomfortable is the point. We don’t change our hearts when we are comfortable.

I hope that this blog post makes you VERY uncomfortable. Don’t scroll by. Sit in the uncomfortable spaces. Read the posts of your BIPOC friends. Read the comments. Think through your biases (thoughts, words, behaviors). We ALL have them. Acknowledging them is what will knock our pride on its feet.

These are comments curated by me and my girls from classmates, co-workers and family and, yes, some of them are from voices currently on my friends list.

“What are you? You look {fill in the blank with your choice} __.”

“Why are your lips so big like those “n”? Looks like you’re one of “them.”

“Are you are an Eskimo? Serious. Are you?”

“Do you speak Spanish? You look like you should.”

“Do you know what a “beaner” is? Well, that’s what you are.”

Mixed Family taking photos. Photographer to my daughters: “Well where did you come from? You don’t look like you fit here with your skin color.”

“Why don’t you speak Spanish?” {yelling angrily}

Referring to me: “Was your mom really born in the United States?”

“Oh sorry! You know I meant that as a compliment right?”

**Subtle seating charts, group projects, partnered work/workouts (all the brown-skinned students together)

Not white enough to fit in with whites and not brown enough to fit in with any other group.
Not being able to fit us into a box makes people uncomfortable.

See, I never thought I had the power to call this behavior or the comments out, especially because maybe they were right: What am I? If they don’t know and I don’t know my own history as an adoptee, I must have zero ground to stand on. {wrong}

As one of the very few educators of color at my school, I can tell you that I’ve witnessed biases and racism, firsthand. I grew up in a very small Texas town and now live in another small Texas town. Nothing has really changed except the faces behind the comments.

These comments and the ones that flow so easily and try with all of their might to come out as a compliment, is EXACTLY what I want others to be aware of. THIS rhetoric needs to change and we ALL need to check ourselves at the door of racist/colorism thoughts, words and behaviors.

It 👏🏻 Isn’t 👏🏻 Enough 👏🏻 To 👏🏻 BE 👏🏻SILENTLY 👏🏻NOT RACIST.👏🏻 WE 👏🏻MUST 👏🏻WORK 👏🏻TO 👏🏻BE 👏🏻ANTI-RACIST!

My friend, Amy, posted a quote from an article (link below) and it moved me so much and reminds me each day to keep digging, reading, listening and ACTING on what I’m learning:

“If you’ve never had a defining moment in your childhood or life, where you realize your skin color alone makes other people hate you, you have white privilege.”

This involves action on our part. It involves asking questions and really hearing the responses. It takes challenging ourselves and surrounding ourselves with those that will challenge us without us defaulting to defensiveness. Don’t create an echo chamber of only people that repeat back your beliefs and experiences.

…. And now my girls are sharing things similar to those experiences I never shared with my own parents or friends because it wasn’t considered “polite” to do so. And now I KNOW I have to teach them not to cower down to this behavior. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a family member, a colleague, a teacher, or a church member.

I’m vowing to do the work on and within myself to be a better advocate for all BIPOC people in my life near and dear to me. I ask you to do the same.

Editorial: What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege

Remote Learning Resources 2020

I’m not going to waste much time with an intro. I just want to say as a digital learning specialist and educator by nature, I am here to help any educators that may need assistance during this time of unprecedented realities. As my friend Ann Kozma as taught me, we are always #BETTERTOGETHER!

I’ve compiled a list of resources I have personally vetted from educators/private groups that I know and trust. I will update it as often as possible as new resources become available!

As always, please reach out to me on Twitter, FB, Instagram or email for any additional assistance or to add a resource!


Catch Sunday’s Recorded Periscope with Gabriel, Jacob and Tisha here: https://www.pscp.tv/w/1jMJgQnBPdMKL

Tips from Gabriel, Jacob and Tisha


List of Resources

List of Free Wifi

List of Company Offerings

Example Daily Schedules

NESCA Productive Home Environment Tips & Jessica Hale Daily Schedule

Sample Schedule in Google Sheets by Angela Tewalt

Khan Academy schedules for closures (K-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-12)

Tips/Upcoming Webinars

Google Distance Learning Strategies Part 1 – Register to join on March 17 @ 5 pm CST

Planning and Facilitating Remote Learning – Tom Driscoll

Monday Morning Meetings with Katherine McKnight (March 16 @ 8 am CST)

List of Education Companies (updated link as of 3/14) offerings FREE subscriptions

Teaching Online Resources from UNC Charlotte – including best online learning practices

Tips for Educators moving courses online

Activities/Engaged Learning

Zoom for Educators (takes 24 hours to take effect!)

Remote Lab Activities and Experiences

Unplugged Lit/Reading Activities for students without digital access

Breakout Games @ Home

Wakelet’s Collection of Distance Learning Resources from educators by educators

Buncee Resources 👇🏼

  1. Free access to Buncee Classroom accounts throughout the period of their closure, in order to help students communicate, collaborate and learn remotely.
  2. A kit of resources that can help facilitate remote learning with EdTech tools such as Buncee, Microsoft Teams and Immersive Reader, Google Classroom, Wakelet, and Flipgrid.

Flipgrid Community Resources 👇🏼

  1. As a central resource, we created this Remote Learning with Flipgrid page. The post is filled with ideas and support for increasing student agency and ensuring that the magic of social learning thrives… anywhere. Please check it out and share with any peers!
  2. Explore the new Learning from Home Disco Library Playlist for ready-to-use Topics.
  3. Add your name to the inspiring community of educators willing to help and share remote learning ideas.
  4. Share this Family Learning post with parents or guardians looking to engage their child at home.

Google for Education Distance Learning Resources

Groups/Educator Connections

• Facebook Group: Educator Temporary School Closure for Online Learning (has links for subgroups: English, Science, SEL, Music, Theater, Special Needs, GT, After School Organizations, Math, Languages, Art)

Parent Resources

Helping Families Cope – student behaviors and actions may escalate as they adjust to this disruption

Fun ideas to Fight Isolation and Loneliness

In learning news:

Comcast Free Package

Zoom – VideoConferencing for Free (allow 24 hours to take effect) ; Guide to using Zoom

Virtual Museum Tours

Google’s Hangout Meets free until July 1

Spectrum offers Free Wifi for 60 Days (Wisconsin area)

What Teachers in China Have Learned in the Past Month


TCEA 2020

What an incredible two weeks of learning {Facebook blog from last week coming soon}! If you have not had the opportunity to attend TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) yet, you must add it to your list of can’t-miss-conferences. I have been going to TCEA for about 10 years and it seems that every year gets better and better. One of the reasons, in my opinion, is the amount of connections made with those who share the same passions. There is definitely something to be said about surrounding yourself with innovative minds who have a common goal to help students achieve learning goals. 

Learner

At my core, I am always learning and wanting to learn and so conference time always gives me the opportunity to stretch my capacity for what is possible and what I know. I explore sessions, first, that I know nothing about or that I am fully aware I have not 100% grasped yet. Here are a few sessions that inspired me: 

•ARVRJaime Donnally: I attended two of her sessions and I did the same last year. For me, it is never enough. I always find myself wanting to learn more from her and be more comfortable in the ARVR Education space. Her sessions are always hands-on and get me out of my comfort zone. {I still haven’t gotten my MergeCube but it IS on my list!}

•eSports – I find myself so intrigued by the entire concept of this idea. Could it be that I am a kid of the 80’s and knew at an early age that I loved all things tech including Atari and Nintendo games? I still don’t have my brain wrapped around the idea fully, but want to explore more and see what that might look like in my district. I approached this one pretty slow and gathered some notes and names of go-to people.

•DigCit Marialice, well, if you know her then you know. Thankfully, James {Wakelet} connected us last year. After one Google Hangout call we were friends for life. I don’t often meet people that get as excited as I do about the possibilities of working with students and digital citizenship! I planned to see Marialice’s session, but a week or so before TCEA she asked me to present with her. So I put some Buncee slides together and highlighted how SWAT and I are creating a better digital space online and in our school community. Even though I was part of the presentation I found myself taking notes and photos of things I wanted to remember. Shoutout to fellow panelists Michael Drezek and Laura Steinbrink

•“Not in the App” Sessions – These are the conversations that happen while waiting in line for the bathroom, for a session, while sitting in a session or after the day is over during dinner or meet-ups. These conversations may last a few minutes or a few hours, but for me these connections grown me as an educator sometimes more than a “sit-n-get” session. Shoutout to Patrick (@edtechmcmillian) and Stephanie (@lispylibrarian) for the great discussions and learning! You inspire me! 

•Creativity is my Jam Brian Romero Smith, Amy Storer, Marialice, & Claudio: So I first went to support my friends, but then like always that turned into a learning party, reunion with friends, selfies and me wanting to learn more about all the creativity apps this panel showed! Two things I walked out with: 1) Even though I cannot rap to save my life {without the Eminem karaoke soundtrack} Flocabulary can help! 2) My designs don’t need to be perfect in order to show students and offer them the opportunities to use them to create in the classroom. 

Presenter

I didn’t start sharing and presenting until I had been in education for 13 years and then had to take 4 years off to care for my #superJace who is childhood cancer survivor. Finally in 2017, I decided it was time to start sharing again and push myself out of my comfort zone once more. I always have to remind myself that presenting never means I have all the answers. It is an opportunity to share what I’m doing and learning in my own classroom with my students and teachers.

Flipgrid – So many times when I set out to create a new presentation I feel like it is not my best work (if you know about the enneagram personality profiles – I am a 1, so this makes complete sense 😂 ). This was the case as I finished this year’s Flipgrid presentation “ Innovation, Inspiration and Leadership.” Even as a seasoned presenter, I wondered if it would help anyone at all. I quickly realized there are so many incredible facets to the Flipgrid platform that we ALL got something out of it!  After both sessions, I left wishing I had more than 50 minutes with the attendees. I can tell you that without Flipgrid, I would not have been able to pull off assessing @SWAT, my student leader tech team. This tool keeps getting better and as a founding ambassador I can tell you that the Flipgrid team is one of the best to work with! If you have yet to use Flipgrid, please reach out to me! I would love to connect and share!

Buncee – One of the things that really attracted me to use Buncee was their backstory and the fact that Michael Drezek recommended it to me. {Ha! If you don’t follow Drezek, go now!} So after using it about 7 months, they asked me to share at the TCEA Buncee booth. Ironically, about that same time, one of my students surprised me by telling me each time she had a choice to create something at school she was using Buncee. I, immediately, scheduled time with her to sit side-by-side with me so she could give me feedback on my presentation! This group made sharing so much fun and they are always so helpful!

Wakelet- If you don’t know about Wakelet or the fact that they have taken the EDU scene by storm, 🤷🏻‍♀️. Every single session I was in at TCEA referenced their “Wakelet Collections.” Whether it was for additional resources, their main presentation medium, or how they were using Wakelet to house their student activities, portfolios or their own lessons. I shared so much about Wakelet and how the Fligprid and Buncee integrations can go right into a collection that I lost my voice! In addition, I enjoyed sharing at their TCEA Booth about their new Student Ambassador Program and how I was using the tool with my teachers! SWAT and I had the honor of working with the team on the Student Ambassador tasks, learning goals, and feedback to make it the best flow for students around the globe. If you’re interested in bringing hands-on digital citizenship into your classroom for FREE, check it out and sign up here

Other Highlights

Spazmatics – this band has become a TCEA bonding experience from some of us and this year was no different! They play every Wednesday night at 9 on Cedar Street in Austin and put on a great show! This year it even SNOWED while we enjoyed their 80’s flashback concert.

#TCEA2020

Why Get Google Certified?

What is a Google Certified Educator? 

A Google Certified Educator is a program managed by Google for educators who use G Suite for Education as part of their teaching and student learning.

How will being Certified help you? 

Personally, going through the study and exam process gave me the confidence I needed to intentionally implement GSuite with my teachers and students. Being certified has added to my knowledge of pedagogy, best tech integration practices and how to utilize technology to take the learning outside the four walls of my classrooms. Having the GSuite knowledge along with the knowledge of best practices makes for a powerhouse of skills in my opinion!

In addition, I lead a group of student technology leaders (S.W.A.T)  who become G Suite Edu Level 1 & 2 Certified in order to best serve our campus learners and educators.

Having a certification brings a confidence for a teacher of any age!

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Also, certification:

• Increases student engagement

• Encourages autonomy of learner

• Opportunities for 4 C’s: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking

• Cultivates a culture of life-long learning among administrators, educators and learners

• Immerses learners in practicing self-pacing and time/project management

• Allows “app smashing” between all G Suite Edu applications

• Opportunities to discuss, model and practice digital citizenship and digital literacy

How can I prepare? 

There are many ways to prepare for certification of Level 1, Level 2 or Trainer. I always believe there is a way not the way when it comes to learning. There are several ways to prepare.

On Your Own: Google offers training that allows you to study at your own pace. This option, though, does not offer much support or collaborative study, however.

Academies: One of the best ways is to utilize a trainer program like the one Kasey Bell is offering. I have, personally, taken a course to prepare with Kasey.  It was so beneficial and set me on my way to become a Certified Google Trainer! Kasey has just launched courses for you as you set out on your learning journey. With Kasey’s courses you’re certain to not only find support, but also will have a facilitator helping you along with the material.

You can review all of the courses she is offering here.

In addition you could just sign up for Level 1 or Level 2 only.

Open enrollment on the above courses closes on December 3! 


Please reach out if you have any questions regarding certification, google training or the academy!

I have been a Certified Trainer since 2017 & Level 1 and 2 certified since 2016 and it truly has helped me be a better teacher, learner and digital coach!

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•The links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Voice and Choice: PD with Educators

This year we have implemented PLC times with our core content areas. What this means for me is that for the first time in the 12 years as a digital learning coach I have specific time set aside to coach and lead my teachers toward technology implementation.

This also means consistency with the information I share and open discussions with teams of teachers to foster a culture of trust and risk taking.

Each year I meet with campus leaders to find out more about their technology campus goals with their teachers. This year we switched from a 1:1 Mac Air environment with our students to a 1:1 iPad environment and because of that our campus leader’s vision was for each teacher to take just one risk with technology integration.

IMG_0225As many of you know for some educators even one risk is big and scary and definitely not comfortable. For the last few months, I have transitioned my teachers from the typical sit-and-get professional development to more of a collaborative, flexible seating and risk taking environment.

I first read The Future of the Classroom in June and found that it aligns with much of what I’ve learned in my UNT Learning Technologies course work about how students learn, how to best implement technology, and pedagogy.

The next article I came upon presented rooms like the one I created as a “teacher’s playground.” I loved reading how this idea began sparking change across the author’s school district. I recommend you read more about the “Spark Lab” here.

One of the biggest challenges I had before as a digital coach is not having enough time to allow the teachers to explore the tools we have on campus, the digital resources they have access to, and the ability to collaborate as a whole team.

Today I decided to take a risk with my own teachers and present them with two choices for their PD time:

  1. Work with a partner through a Choice Board in Google Docs to get better with iPad Navigation and Settings.
  2. Work with a partner using the S. M. A. R. T. goals and applying them to their 1 technology risk.

Both choices were going to meet goals we have set. One goal is to get them more comfortable with the device change and have them see the benefits to student learning using accessibility options. Another goal is to elevate their T-TESS levels as they implement technology into their classrooms. A few weeks ago, we used mentimeter as a quick formative assessment tool to see some of their risk taking goals for the semester/year. So I popped their results back up on the screen as a refresher and then…

IMG_0224

I turned on some Piano Guys and let them begin collaborating!

You see if we want teachers to give students choices in their learning and opportunities to collaborate, we have to be willing to show them how to do this with them as they learn.  We cannot ask our educators to do something in their classrooms that we are not willing to do when they are spending time with us (administrators, coaches, leaders).

Our teachers need choice and voice in their professional development.

They need time to reflect, talk, ask questions and take risks. It is up to us to immerse them in the same learning environment we want them to use with our students. When they see student voice and choice in action and can refer back to their own personal experience with it, they will begin implementing it in their classrooms!

I would love to collaborate with you and share more about how I created this experience for my teachers! Reach out to me and let me know if you would like to schedule an online meeting or email me with any quick questions you might have!

5 Reasons You’ve Gotta Stop To Celebrate

We all love to celebrate, but do we stop and do it as often as we should? 

Too often we are quick to focus on what’s not working or what we aren’t doing enough of and forget to stop and, intentionally, celebrate what is going great.

As educators, we know all too well that there are many things not working, but instead of letting those things overcome you, I’m asking you to stop and CELEBRATE both the small and big things!

Here are 5 reasons why you should stop and celebrate in your classroom, with your co-workers, and with yourself!

 

Learn and Adapt.

When we celebrate what is going well, we {unknowingly at times} take time out to reflect on what’s working well and why. We begin focusing on the positive and in turn create a culture of gratitude. We can see from our feedback and reflection the actions and goals that worked and begin to replicate it. This creates a cycle of success & celebration!

 

Develop a “Success” Mindset.

A large part of success is our state of mind. Of course, vision boards and daily affirmations help us to focus on our future successes, but celebrating also helps change our mindset. Celebrating our successes, no matter how small the win, cultivates a success mindset. On the contrary, by not noticing or downplaying our successes, we may be telling ourselves (and others) that we don’t deserve to celebrate or haven’t done enough for any recognition. I know that I don’t want my students & teachers to downplay their success, so I need to model that for them while they are in my presence.

 

Motivation.

We are all motivated by our successes. We have to continue to give ourselves opportunities to be successful. If we “let the grass grow around our feet,” we let our motivation become stagnant and whether we realize it or not we limit our celebrations. Breaking our goals down into smaller milestones creates a magic momentum and keeps us motivated to continue to press on.

 

Happiness.

Dopamine has been called the “reward chemical” or the “happiness drug.” When we score a goal, hit a target, or accomplish a task our brain receives a dose of dopamine and tells us “good job!” By celebrating, we kick-start that feeling and are in a better mindset to tackle what is before us.

 

Sharing.

We must share and celebrate our own successes so other people will follow our lead.  Sharing is also a chance for us to celebrate others’ successes. Sharing gives everyone a chance to join in on the celebration and creates a sense of community and camaraderie. I know when anyone from my PLN posts of a success, the first thing I want to do is celebrate them and their accomplishment!

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Marianne Williamson and summarizes why I believe “CELEBRATE” is my word of 2018:

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

 

Now, go out there and CELEBRATE all the things! 

Empowering Educators Everywhere,

Tisha (@txtechchick)