Here’s the prezi shared in Thursday’s session. Links are below!
Back in October’s #edcampdallas, we had the great fortune of meeting Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), who had driven down from Waller, Texas. He & his ninja counter part Stacy, (@TechNinjaStacey) were so enthusiatic and engaged throughoutthe day, they decided to go back and host their own #edcampWaller. It was a resounding success.
Much like Matt Gomez (@MattBGomez), Todd is a forward thinking, take charge kinda teacher and has been featured by many as one to follow, specifically in the realm of flipped classrooms. I asked Todd to do a guest post about his leadership on his campus and what results he’s seen. He’s a charismatic speaker and innovater…but he backs it up with phenomonal classroom results.
Thanks for the post, TNT!
I’ve been teaching for 6 years. Before that I worked four years at an elementary school as a classroom aide (as part of the “Grow Your Own” program) while I attended Texas A&M University. And before that I worked at an elementary school while I was in high school as part of the “Ready, Set, Teach” program. In those 11 years I have never learned as much as I have this past school year when I finally decided to step up and take charge of my own professional development.
Teachers are Leaders. The sad thing though, is that many of us don’t see ourselves as that. Sure we view ourselves as leaders of our classroom, but when it comes to helping out other teachers or other schools we sometimes feel very inadequate. Over the past 9 months, the number one thing I’ve learned is that there are far more exceptional people in education than I ever realized. Once I joined and became active on Twitter (in June of 2012) I found a wealth of knowledge, experience, ideas, and creativity from many of my new connections. It energized me. It lit a fire I haven’t had since before I started teaching.
So often as teachers we get bogged down by all the rules, procedures, and paperwork. We also can get derailed by those “Negative Nellies”. Those people who are so convinced that education can never be fixed and therefore they’ve given up. I was almost one of those people. Four years into my teaching career I was ready to quit. I was preparing my students for a test because the state and my district wanted great scores. I was shoving problem after problem after problem down my students throats. I was teaching them how to take a test. And in the process I was looking like an excellent teacher because my students were scoring exceptionally well! But I was dying inside. I view myself as a game changer. Someone who thrives on pushing boundaries and trying new and exciting ideas. But I turned into this robot who was making my students into test taking robots. I hated it.
Then I heard about the Flipped Classroom, Project Based Learning, and Twitter. And my eyes were opened. I decided no longer would I listen to those who said the only way you could get kids to be successful was to teach the test. I was no longer going to listen to those who said my ideas were too outlandish and that I needed to take a step back. I decided I was going to take charge of my own learning and I was going to forge new paths within my district for the betterment of my students.
For a while I felt very alone. Sometimes when you blaze new trails there are many people that whisper behind your back, that hope you fail, or that constantly tell you your ideas are crazy and it can begin to feel like you’re the only one on a sinking ship. Then I found my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter.
Through the power and connections of Twitter I was reminded I’m not alone. That out there in Texas and the rest of the country and the rest of the world are educators just like me. Educators who want their students to LEARN not just to take a test. Educators who want to push boundaries, change conventional thinking, and really challenge their students. I found a network of peers who encouraged me, cheered me on, challenged me, and best yet have walked with me through every step of my new endeavors. Have I met many of these people in person? No! But I have met some! And getting to meet these people in person fires you up even more. I now attend every single conference and training I can in hopes of finding more people like me and of course in hopes that I’ll get to hang out with or meet more of my twitter friends. I now even plan my own conferences (EdCampWaller) in hopes of bringing even more great minds together.
And better yet, these new endeavours and connections haven’t only benefitted me, they’ve also benefited my students! Now my students are getting these fun and engaging lessons that I’ve heard about from other educators. My students are getting to connect with other classrooms from all around the world. And best of all, guess what, since I refused to teach a test in October of 2012, my scores have increased by 12% to an almost perfect pass rate this year. Who said you have you to teach a test?
So don’t fret. If you’re trying new things and often feel alone, forge ahead! Seek out other educators through Twitter or whatever other avenue! Step outside your comfort zone and you will find a world of encouragement and learning that you couldn’t have ever even dreamed of. Take charge of your learning and lead the way!
Eric Sheninger spoke at #ASCD13 on the keys to initiating sustainable change and something he said that resonated with me was “I don’t find the time to learn and get better. I make the time to learn and get better.” While this did inspire a lively talk about unicorns, I completely understood what he meant.
Educators today are pulled in a dozen different directions daily. We’re expected to meet unrealistic goals and transform lives, daily, and most of the time? we’re able to do it. How can you fit any thing else in your day?
To me, being a connected educator isn’t an option, it’s how I’m able to function. I couldn’t possibly provide the answers, the options, the experience that I do without having a PLN of my very own. From conversations on the other side of the world to being able to ask 4,000 people their advice…being connected provides that opportunity.
I’m presenting at TEPSA this summer on being a “connected educator” and being able to articulate the value of what social media can bring to the table is almost overwhelming. I know how busy and stressed these administrators are. I’m busy and stressed too! Hopefully I’ll be able to show that we’re in a time where being connected isn’t an option any longer, and that the problem isn’t that education isn’t what it used to be…it’s that it IS what it used to be. Our students can’t afford any less than the most current, the most engaging, and the opportunities that being connected provides.
Plug in, you won’t regret it! Change can either happen to you or because of you…and what leader doesn’t want to be at the forefront of positive, impacting change?
One of the key reasons I was so excited to come to ASCD was the opportunity to see and hear Maya Angelou speak. I genuinely considered this a bucket list moment.
From the moment she stepped out and opened her talk with scripture and a sing, I was hooked. This feisty, almost 85 year old woman, held the crowd in the palm of her hand from the start. Her story, which she shared a brief amount of, is an inspiration to anyone who works with children. She was witty, she was honest, she is
Anyone who has ever discounted a student, for any number of reasons, should hear Ms. Angelou’s tale. Raped at nine by her mother’s boyfriend, she named her attacker only to have him turn up dead the next day. Believing that she caused the death by speaking his name, she fell mute. She was poor, black, living in poverty in Arkansas..and now mute. How easy would it have been for her to be written off? A cautionary tale to all teachers…
At sixteen, she was a single mother in San Francisco. At every point she was down, she mentioned having a rainbow in the cloud. There was always someone in her life that encouraged her, that helped her see who and what she could accomplish. Her “Uncle Willy” was that role model for her, always encouraging others.
Her message centered around support, encouragement, and recognizing what effect you can have on others. She wouldn’t be where she was without those who were there for her..
Angelou closed by calling for educators to recognize their power: ”We are the possible. We are the true. We are the miracle.”
This was such a powerful message for me to hear, being surrounded by the “rainbows” of my ASCD peers. I look to many of the people that I was sitting with for inspiration, to give advice, even to challenge me. (I’m working on that…) It was a monumental moment to hear this amazing woman, one who inspires millions…one who was asked to write an inauguration poem for Clinton…is talking to educators and calling them to recognize their power.
“We are the possible. We are the true. We are the miracle.”
Connectivity, connections, relationships…be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.
rain cloud avoidN,
I am puh-retty excited about going to ASCD tomorrow!! I’ve been to ASCD before, but I went with my techno team in sunny FL a few years ago. It was a memorable experience for many reasons (it may be smart to make sure your secretary has actually REGISTERED you for the conference…) but this time will be completely different.
For starters, I’m heading there…alone. As in ALL BY MYSELF! Those who know me are gasping in shock right now, I know. I can barely walk to get tea from the cafeteria alone much less go to an airport, fly somewhere, get to my hotel, and then attend a conference alone!
Why the grownupness, you ask?
It started with this email.
“A colleague has requested a press pass for you to the ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Chicago, Ill. on March 16-18. If this is an event you would like to attend, please RSVP to my colleague Marissa B, who is cc:ed here. She will collect all your details and get you set up.
For more information on attending as media, please see: http://ac13.ascd.org/media/main.aspx. You will be writing about leadership for the Connected Principals blog, we’re really looking forward to seeing your coverage. I also encourage you to tweet about the conference leading up, and during, your time in Chicago, using the hashtag #ASCD13. In addition, we’d love to have you at the Tweet Up.”
I paused for about two minutes. Then the reality of meeting my twitter tweeps like
@PrincipalJ, @Joe_Mazza, @NMHS_Principal, & @stumpteacher kicked in…I even think @gcouros will be there! Then my mind jumped to great sessions like Leading with Instruction in Mind, The Power of Transformational Leadership: Transforming Schools Through Innovative Leadership Capacity, & In the Balance: Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness, Leadership, and Evaluation.
You think I’d be sold then, right? Nope, but almost. It wasn’t until I realized that two of the select presenters were Maya Angelou and Sandra Day O’Conner would be there. Bucket list material!!
So that has evolved into me actually going…and being SUPER excited! I do have a friend from high school there to come get me if I end up lost somewhere, 🙂 and a fireman friend of MT’s will meet at the airport to give me a rail pass. Now, just to find out what that means, 🙂