How To Save Yourself From Isolation

Isolation is a choice. 

As a classroom teacher for 8 years, I remember feeling comfortable that I could control what was happening within the 4 walls of my room. I could focus on that and know that it was just about the only thing I could control.

While that is all well and good, hindsight is 20/20.

I waited on my district to provide those few days in August and a day here and there throughout the year to give me what I thought I needed professionally.

The truth is most of what I attended didn’t even apply to me!

(with the exception of things like Teaching with Love and Logic with is AMAZING and helped me parenting, too.)

I attended one content specific conference every summer for a few days and I guess I expected that to keep me inspired for the rest of the year.

Most of you already know the end result: it didn’t. 

Around 2008, I began my career as an instructional technologist. I took what I had learned from my Ss in the classroom and began creating social media accounts for whatever was popular at the time.

Facebook was first and Twitter was next. I was on fire to learn what was so intriguing about these sites according to my Ss and then wanted to figure out a way to make it productive for me.

My superintendent at the time also encouraged me to learn what “twittering” was all about.

Little did I know that would open the door for a type of learning I’d never experienced and the group of people that have changed my life.

I’ve been using Twitter as my personal learning network ever since.

There are several myths when I try to talk to and encourage teachers about using Twitter as a PLN:

  1. I’m Not Good At Technology.
  2. It’s Just One More Thing on my List
  3. I’m Not Here To Make Friends
  4. What I’m Doing Is Working. I Don’t Want to Ask for Help.
  5. I’m Not Experienced Enough to Share!

I’m actually never surprised because in my 9 years as an Instructional Technology coach, I’ve heard it all. I just narrowed my list of myths down to the ones I hear the most. 🙂

I love this video from YouTube because this lady represents so many of us who aren’t ready to change how we learn and who ask, “WHYYYYY?????”

We actually ALWAYS share the WHY of PLN, but many of you reading will already know the “Why?” Just in case here’s a preview: PLN Why (4)This week at #tia17 my fellow educator Deb Zeman and I presented on this topic.

Some of the truths we wanted to stress were things we’ve heard firsthand from those that have found the power of Twitter to empower educators:

  • “It’s a teacher’s GOLD MINE!”
  • “…one of the BEST career choices I’ve made!”
  • “More practical ideas than my Masters class!” 
  • “I’ve learned more in 10 minutes that I have in 5 days of typical PD.” 

We also shared the HOW with this document –> SMART PLN with our attendees so they would have something TANGIBLE to write their S.M.A.R.T. PLN goals on and could refer back to it from time to time.

(I know, I know, but the act of writing it out and hanging it where you can see it daily will help you grow!)

After that we shared some of WHO to follow on Twitter, Facebook. Instagram and some tips on using the widely-debated Snapchat. (I’ve been using it as a PLN tool for the last 6 months)

Because our presentation was all about SHARING what you have and what you know with your PLN, we have linked the presentation down below! Feel free to use this with your fellow teachers and administrators.

But be good digital citizens and GIVE EVERYONE CREDIT! 🙂

Link to “PLN: I Don’t Have Time & Other Myths”

As an added bonus, we’ve added a hidden link that goes to our most popular session to date called “You Shared What?! (Digital Citizenship Academy)” It’s a lesson that you can use WITH your Ss or TS and can be adapted to your grade level needs. We are excited to not only present this with our HS this fall, but also with our 6th grade campus who will be piloting 1:1 Chromebooks in our district!

Empowering Educators Everywhere,

Tisha (@txtechchick)

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2 Things I Have Learned This Year

  1. Leadership isn’t about titles. 
  2. Immediate Feedback is powerful. 

Leadership

If you’ve followed me very long over on my professional Twitter account, you already know that leadership and learning more about leadership is a characteristic I value greatly.

I’ve read numerous books this year including The New Pillars of Modern Teaching, 360 Degree Leader, Lead Like A Pirate and Chop Wood, Carry Water and each one has a common theme of being a great leader wherever you happen to be and whatever you happen to be doing!

I believe that the 5 people you spend time with the most and the last 5 books you’ve read are what is shaping you to be who you are today! What you surround yourself with is what you become!

Leadership isn’t about a title. As educators, we have to empower ourselves to know that we are leaders no matter what our title is at the moment. We are more than our title of teacher,  student, paraprofessional or administrator.

It is up to us to lead ourselves before we are ever able to lead anyone else. This means doing the things that others are not willing to do whether that includes picking up other people’s trash that has fallen in our path or being confident enough to model what it is we are asking of our teachers or students.

You are a leader! I am a leader! We ARE leaders!

It is within our power to lead change, lead learning, and lead transparency so that we can build up and grow more great leaders!


Feedback

Feedback is necessary for change and improvement. We cannot continue to do what we’ve always done because we’ve always done it.

Educators have no time. I hear it all the time. I’ve even said it myself (especially as the school year winds down).

We have to talk to each other anyway. 

Some of the best and most inspiring conversations I’ve had with other educators have been in the hallway as I’m rushing to my next meeting or to the next conference session. They weren’t planned or scripted. Some of those conversations have led me to grow more as an educator than I did during days and days of planned staff development in my district.

As educators, we have a responsibility to share and share often! 

It doesn’t have to be perfect! In fact, it can be messy! Once we get passed this idea we all have the ability to grow in ways we never expected.

We have to SHARE the great things we are doing in our classrooms so that more Ss can benefit from those great things. In order to do this, we need to get in the habit of giving and receiving feedback whether it’s in our own hallways, on Twitter, or at conferences.

One of the best digital tools I’ve learned of this year for immediate feedback, student voice & team building is —->  Flipgrid

Flipgrid allows students and/or teachers to record 30 second to three minute (with the flipgrid classroom account).

The free account allows teachers one grid with limited features. Sign up here

You can upgrade your account to a Flipgrid Classroom account (Priced at $65 for individual subscriptions and $400 for 10-packs). This account allows you access to: unlimited grids, topics, responses, and replies-to-responses; feature student responses; move and duplicate grid structure and content; embed fully-functional grids into other environments such as an LMS or class website.

I’ve recently taken to using the Flipgrid app instead of the web interface! This allows me to give and receive feedback anywhere and any time I can carve out some moments in my day.

FlipBadgeI am a FlipGrid Ambassador BUT even if I wasn’t I would be sharing their greatness with you anyway! They are a great group of people to work with and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to share them with you!

They are so awesome that YOU can use this PROMO CODE which is good for free access to Flipgrid Classroom through September 30, 2017TISHAPONCIO

 Enjoy! Let us know how you’re using it! We love to hear your ideas!

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

I’m interested to here from YOU!

What great things have you learned this year? What are you willing to share?

Here is a flipgrid for you to record and share your thoughts: https://flipgrid.com/796dab

Empowering Educators Everywhere,

Tisha (@txtechchick)