3 Key Components to a Powerhouse Staff and School

School is underway. The first few days are so critical in establishing norms, setting the culture of the building for learning, ensuring safety, and developing a routine for the rest of the  school year. These ideas are nothing short of new, but as we move into our second week of school I realized that we are off to one of the best starts to the school year yet. I had to stop and ask, “Why?”

Here is what I came up with as the reasons for a great start which permeates to a culture of deeper learning and a place students want to be. I am proud to say that our building has the components to make these ideas happen.

1. Losing the fear of failure – As we move to a project based learning model of learning as it fits into the scope of deeper learning we have learned that we have to overcome our fear of mistakes and failure. Many of us will tell others that we are not afraid of failing, but then we never venture too far out of our comfort zones.

Last year many teachers took the plunge to try new things. Some worked and some failed. Some made small mistakes while others made big mistakes. In the end you could feel the pulse of the building change. Learning looked different. Learning was more integrated, more immersive, and more powerful. We still had teachers not make much change, but that is to be expected. When change happens, not everyone is going to embrace it with loving arms. It takes time and we have to keep working to move beyond our comfort zones.

This year we have more teachers really revving their engines. We spent a great amount of in service developing high quality projects. Teachers were collaborating, modifying ideas, critiquing in a good way their ideas, really working hard to develop a learning opportunity that would be both meaningful and impactful. I felt that despite the usual pre school year jitters more teachers than ever before were ready to rock and roll and let things take their course.

This mindset leads to the second key point of

2. Leaving your ego behind – As educators we have to do things we sometimes don’t want to do. There is the paperwork, meetings, and all the other jargon that comes with the job. But, there is another element that I want to address. It is doing things that make us uncomfortable……. in a good way.

This summer we had some teachers really step up to the plate and organize a great kickoff to our school year. They organized a flash mob dance routine to be done by our staff during our all school(1100 kids) assembly where we cover rules for the building. Instead of drilling them forever on rules and expectations we cut it short and a few minutes into the assembly the music pumped through the speakers and most of the staff headed to the dance floor to dance. We had to embarrass ourselves. Some were grooving. People like me tried their best, but smiled and enjoyed the moment. It was a good visual for kids to realize that we have to go for it. We have to try new things. We have to once again move outside of our comfort zones. Instead of threats we started the year off with some fun. Teachers were giving up free time to laugh together, learn how to do the dance and in the end make a fool of themselves. What was more important than the actual dance moves was the amount of staff who danced. It was a powerful visual to students that we are all in this together.

From there we had teachers dressing up in costume and doing a variety of kick off activities to emphasize teamwork, respect, treating others fairly, and developing the pride in what we do all day every day. It was awesome! It was so good to see a great start to the year and done in a way to let students know what we are about how learning will take place this year.

This whole idea leads me to my third point

3. Teacher Need to Be Leaders – The most important element to a successful staff and school are teacher leaders. I am not talking about appointed positions. I am not talking about those one or two people who take on so many leadership roles. I am talking about all teachers stepping up to be leaders when it is their time to shine.

What I want to refer to is the whole staff. This year we have already witnessed new faces step up and lead in their own capacities. Schools and staff need more of this. Every single educator has the skills and abilities to lead when it is their turn to go. Often we just wait for one or two people to step up. Don’t wait. Make things happen. Schools need more educators to step up and lead. I firmly believe that once more educators step up to lead then it is just a trickle down effect and next thing you know it is okay and the norm to step up and take control from time to time. I love how teachers stepped up and organized the flash mob. They made it happen. I love it how another teacher dressed up as a pirate to kick things off. What will happen next? I don’t know, but I cannot wait to see who the next person is to rise to the occasion.

It is not about being better than someone else, but being different and ourselves so that the school has a culture of learning and the freedom to explore paths to discover who we are and what we want to be. We have to lead by examples and strive to challenge ourselves so we are not stuck in a rut.

I hope your school year is off to a great start as well.

 

 

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Using Formative Assessment in Instructional Coaching Practice PD: Day 1 Notes

Today I attended day one of a series of eight days of training for Instructional Coaches. In the state of Iowa, schools could apply for a Teacher Leadership grant/money where the state is working towards bringing and training teachers to be leaders within schools and districts to increase learning and mastery. The training that I attended today was called

Now, I am not going to sit through and clean up my notes. Rather, I want to share them with you. Some may make sense and other notes may not make a lick of sense. It is rough form. However, if you have ideas, suggestions, don’t agree, etc. please feel free to leave a comment. The goal here is to share my thoughts through a full day of training.

I have another day of training tomorrow to follow up. The other days don’t happen for a while yet.

I have many personal thoughts on things, but won’t share them all in this post. Yes, they will be shared soon.

Here you go. My notes recorded in Evernote and shared on MoPad. What I would like for you to do is mark it up. Leave comments, ideas, suggestions. Argue…..whatever. I want this to be an active dialogue. I am not sure if MoPadis the answer for what I am after, but I am going to give it a try.

I will add more when I have time. I have many more notes on my notepad. I will link the articles soon. It is a work in progress as I muddle through my thoughts. I don’t have the answers, but am working on some. I am hoping that collectively we can find some solutions and move beyond the fluff stuff that we are constantly given in education.

Here you go – comment away my friends https://etherpad.mozilla.org/nGsng1wLhl

 

 

 

 

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What are your keys to being productive? I want to know!

After reading several profiles of successful people in magazines, books, blogs, websites, and social media I have decided to begin to compile information about trends of people who are productive.

I have created a very short Google Form to gather and compile key aspects of being productive from people in all fields of occupation.

Below you will find seven questions. I will be sharing out what I find. Please help spread the word and have your friends and colleagues complete this as well.

I am excited to find out more as I am sure that there will be something we can all learn from.

This is one of the most exciting things I have decided to do. I thank you in advance for contributing to this little research project.

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007: Living on Edge of Chaos – Todd Henry

Todd Henry is the author of two great books – The Accidental Creative and his latest release Die Empty. You can check out his website http://www.accidentalcreative.com/ where you can find his podcasts and all social media links. 
I read Accidental Creative a few months back and absolutely fell in love with this book and his work. http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/search?q=todd+henry
I then pre ordered Die Empty and absorbed that book even more so. I liked it even more than Accidental Creative. The basis of the book is to help people, companies, businesses, and organizations do their most important work. As I read this book I could relate almost all of it to education and to the many ideas that I am striving for within my own job in education.
I sent Todd an email about chatting with me on this podcast and I jumped for joy when he said yes. 

Here is the link to his latest book, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everyday

Show Notes


All Social Media for Todd Henry – Please follow and learn from one of the best!
Twitter: 
Websites
Facebook

All Social Media for Coffeechug – I would love to have you join my PLN
Links to items mentioned in the podcast


Google Glass for Bettendorf Middle School Students
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006: Living on Edge of Chaos – Clive Thompson

Holy Cow! Did I just type in the title that I chatted with the writer and author Clive Thompson? The writer for New York Times, my favorite article in every issue of Wired magazine, and the author of my favorite read of the year Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds For The Better (click the book icon below to buy)

Yes, I did just name drop that. Clive took time out of his busy schedule to chat with me for about 45 minutes to talk about how the new literacies and emerging technologies are shaping our world with a lens on education.

I feel quite honored to be able to present this podcast.

It was a chat that left me tweeting

Just had a great conversation with @pomeranian99 for upcoming podcast. He melted my brain and has opened my eye to new thought.
— Aaron Maurer (@coffeechugbooks) November 26, 2013

Go ahead and give it a listen, leave me some feedback on iTunes and let me know what you thought of the conversation. I did have some audio recording issues so my last question where I ask Clive to speak about predictive technologies was lost. That is a bummer as he gave such an awesome answer. I think the rest of the podcast will leave your brain full and you will finish listening excited to know more.

Show Notes
Follow and listen to this podcast on iTunes and please feedback and ratings. I would love it if you listened to it on iTunes also. Don’t just follow, but listen as that is more important than anything!

iTunes link to the show

Listen to podcast on Podomatic.com below

Followme_230x40_white
All Social Media for Clive Thompson
Websites
http://clivethompson.tumblr.com/

Please let me know what you thought. Any questions, feedback, suggestions, etc.

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Coffeechug Nominates the Following for the Edublog Awards #eddies13

  • Best individual blog – I have shared out, noted, and thought about more ideas from http://michaelkmilton.com/ than any other website as of late in terms of actual classroom projects and lesson ideas. Michael Milton is sharing out so many fantastic ideas that it is hard to keep up. My lucky social studies teachers receive something from this website from me at least once a week.
  • Best new blog – Bianca Hewes – Not necessarily new to blogging, but new to me this year. I came across her after studying PBL for my school. She is brutally honest and speaks it like it is. I appreciate this more than anything else in the world. She is not a cookie cutter, pretty classroom, everything is great type person. She is real. She speaks truth. The good and the bad. Her ideas are top notch and I hope to develop a voice like she has developed. She is an outlier pushing the ideas of classroom projects and helping students lead the charge in learning.
  • Best student blog – Student Voice – I have worked with Zak Malamed as he has helped some of my students on a project and listening to him speak at ISLI. From there I have jumped onto this site and really love the ideas and platform of this site. So many great voices being shared. Students leading by example on how powerful the student voice can and should be. #stuvoice
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog – Scott McLeod – Dangerously Irrelevant This guy is one of my favorites. He challenges status quo. He raises important ideas that need to be addressed. He is a boundary pusher and a much needed voice if we want to make positive change in education. Love that he has no fear. And he let me wear his Google Glass and now I want a pair so bad!
  • Best teacher blog – Vicki Davis – Cool Cat Teacher – Always great content. Never miss a post. She is personable, shares her ups and downs, and provides quality content that any teacher can apply and learn from. Have been following her for years and information constantly gets better. I am proud to call her a mentor and friend. She is top notch and leading the charge in education remaining true to her classroom.
  • Best library / librarian blog – I just came across http://www.techbrarian.com/ and it is by far the coolest looking website and just blows my mind. So much to learn here and I need a few days to just process it all. This has inspired me to reshape my blog, develop a new website, and really design a better concept of myself. So good, so good. More need to be aware of this work and site.
  • Best administrator blog – Jimmy Casas Jimmy is the principal for our high school so I am keeping it local. When he writes a post it comes from the heart and the mind. It is a real voice and we don’t see this enough from administrators. It is hard to open up when one little phrase can be taken out of context, but in order to connect and grow, we have to be open and honest. He does just that.
  • Most influential blog post of the year: Pernille Rip http://pernillesripp.com/2013/09/22/dear-bammy-awards-where-did-it-go-wrong/ I love her too! I am probably not on her PLN radar but she is great. She shares so many great things about education, her teaching, and her students. This blog post was something that really opened up some great conversation. Someone had to speak up and she did. This took courage and frankly it made me think even more highly of her for speaking up. This post is important not because of the questions raised about the BAMMY’s, but the importance of speaking up and advocating for what is right. The conversation that erupted was paramount to moving education forward. More teachers need a backbone to speak up about the truths of education and issues. This blog post is an exemplar about how to do this professionally.
  • Best individual tweeter – Ginger Lewman @gingerlewman I LOVE Ginger. She challenges my thoughts, questions my thinking, speaks her own piece, and this is what I love about her. She is another real authentic voice in education who is not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked. My best conversations about education have been with her.
  • Best twitter hashtag – This is tough. I have debated between the following #iaedchat #edchat #tlap and #itlchat. In the end I think I have to go with #iaedchat as it is the one that I constantly share with and connect with the most. The others are great and I even have one, but if I go by use, then #iaedchat is the clear winner.
  • Best free web tool – Audacity. Loving this tool as I push my boundaries to create podcasts. Learning so much with this tool that has been around for so long. Really, I should go state Google Hangout. Yes, let me go with Google Hangout. So many fantastic connections have been made with other educators, classrooms, and students. Okay, so there it is a mid write-up change in making. Google Hangout, but still wanted to give Audacity a plug 🙂
  • Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast – I am going with Vicki Davis Every Classroom Matters Podcast My favorite podcast dealing with education. I have not missed one yet. Professional, seeking out many new voices, and I am learning so much from these 10-15 minute episodes. She also helped give me a nudge to start my own. One day I might have an audience like her.
  • Best educational wiki – Is there really any reason to think that http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com/ should not be #1. 
  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series – Not sure if it fits this category http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com/p/the-two-guys-show.html is a must. They helped motivate me to enact on my personal goal of podcasting, interviewing, and raising awareness through another media. These shows are great for the conversations and the information that can be obtained. The chat with Ginger Lewman is the best.
  • Best educational use of a social network – No doubt I have to go with Ginger Lewman. She has challenged me to get going on some platforms like FourSquare. She has her own blog, tweets, and FB posts, but she also has LifePractice Learning. She is always leading the way and testing out what is new and happening. She is everywhere and does it the right way. Must give credit to the mentor who has helped me and continues to help me navigate the social media world.
  • Best mobile app – Twitter, just because it is my one stop source to connect with the best educators around the world. I check this app at last 200 times a day. It is an addiction that needs help, but only a little bit because I am not giving it up.
  • Lifetime achievement – Angela Maiers – She is living her words and inspiring so many. I cannot express here enough of how much she has helped me to find my voice as an educator as well as helping my students and students around the world to do the same. It is not easy to stand up strong for what you believe, but she does just that and is constantly working to bring in more people and students. She is connected and always upbeat. Love her message and hope to spread the message as well.
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004: Living on Edge of Chaos – 5 Questions on Passion Driven Classroom

Follow this podcast on iTunes and please feedback and ratings.


Show Notes

This show will focus on the following 5 questions based on my prior podcast on Passion
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/coffeechug-cafe-episode-1/id438001112?i=162564070&mt=2

Questions/thoughts I have been thinking about:

1.  How can I balance a passion with reality?  Seems like when I have a passion, it can turn in to an obsession where I am thinking about the topic and wanting to work on various tasks related to the topic all of the time, which can then take away from time I need to be spending with my family and the mundane chores (dishes, laundry, etc.) that need to be done.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to balance the two.

2.  If I  am in one of the “valleys” where I don’t seem to be passionate about anything, how can I get “fired up” again?  Maybe watch motivational videos, reading blogs, keep up on the latest and newest technologies?

3.  Can passion turn into stress if I get too absorbed?  (Back to the whole finding a balance idea)

4.  How can I address 100+ students’ passion in my classroom? I am brainstorming ideas  for projects where students can work on a topic that they are passionate about.

5.  I am still thinking about the question, “What is my wow?”  I am wondering if it would be beneficial to do an activity with my team where we share with other team members what we see as their strengths.  For me, it is easier to see other people’s strengths than my own.  This might help to identify my wow.

Theme Song: All credit goes to 

https://twitter.com/BigRonCrowley
https://twitter.com/schink10

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How I read business/marketing books and apply to education

This bothers me. Must help my son be more in tune with his learning.

I have been asked multiple times since this summer about what I am reading. People usually start to lose interest the minute I tell them I am reading a great business or marketing book. It seems boring or non educational. I think they are expecting me to say I am reading some new educational book with strategies or lesson plans.

To be honest, besides Teach Like A Pirate, I have not read a good quality education book in quite some time. There are some great ones out there, but for the last two years I just don’t see anything new or groundbreaking.

I am finding that reading the latest marketing/business books have really opened my eyes up to a new perspective. I am not reading them to make money or start my own company, but I read them with the lens of education.

Let me explain how I do this.

1. Vocab transfer

The following words I exchange in my mind while reading

business = education
product = students or goal of my classroom depending on context of material
customers = students and sometime parents/community
making money = helping students learn

2. I read in chunks

I don’t speed read. I will read a few pages or a chapter and stop. I will then stop to think about what I read. Go back over a paragraph or two and then make notes using Evernote or my notepad. I will jot down ideas from the book into my own words moving the ideas to education.

3. Read other material

Even though I am reading the book I am still paying close attention to other blogs, Twitter, newsletters, etc. looking through it all to further apply the content to education. Many times when I have this focus I can pick and pull from several other resources to solidify my ideas

4. Blog

Most of the blog posts lately have derived from this method. I simply share out an idea when I think that I have one worth sharing. At some point I would like to mold these into a cohesive book, but with two books already in the process this will have to wait.

I have been sharing my weekly reads on my new podcast.

I am also working on creating a newsletter where I share out what books, magazines, and resources I am currently focusing on. I hope to have this up and running soon.

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003: Living on Edge of Chaos – Augmented Reality in Education

Awesome to have you here! Here is episode three to the Coffeechug Cafe Podcast: Living on the Edge of Chaos.

This episode I will be sharing out some amazing ideas generated from Teacher Tinker Time this week where we took a look at Augmented Reality in education.

I would love to hear from you so please leave any feedback, reviews, questions, etc.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @coffeechugbooks

Please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes(I will be very happy for any help you can provide!): https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/coffeechug-concepts-podcast/id438001112?mt=2
– See more at: http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/2013/11/coffeechugcafe-podcast-series-living-on_9.html#sthash.mj3sjKkq.dpuf

Listen to the episode

On Friday I set up several tables that looked like the following
Augmented Reality Teacher Tinker Time is ready to go! #AR #coffeechugcafe #augmentreality #Framatic

I sent out the following email to all staff to come down to my room for Tinker Time

Just a reminder that Friday during periods 6,7,8 I will be hosting Teacher Tinker time. We will be looking at Augmented Reality

If you have a smartphone or tablet it would be great if you could download the following apps so you can begin to experiment and learn so we can create something very cool in the following weeks.

Aurasma
Layar
Blippar
colAR
AR Flashcards
Brain Scan

For Aurasma if you want to follow me (Coffeechug) and another teacher I know (pvjhscience) I can show you some classroom examples.

See you tomorrow.

Here are some past blog posts regarding Augmented Reality

Teach Like A Pirate Poster + Augment Reality = Awesome Classroom Poster FINAL VERSION – See more at: http://coffeeforthebrain.blogspot.com/2013/07/teach-like-pirate-poster-augment.html#sthash.AK6X5gzy.dpuf

Teach Like A Pirate Poster + Augment Reality = Awesome Classroom Poster FINAL VERSION

Speedgeeking Notes from #ITEC13 via Evernote (my presentation)

#ITEC13 Conference Presentations by Coffeechug  #coffeechugPLN

Theme Song: All credit goes to 

https://twitter.com/BigRonCrowley
https://twitter.com/schink10

Books I Am Reading This Week

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (finished and book review and future podcast coming)

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day (will finish this weekend)

Lexicon (will start this week)

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Applying Entrepreneurial Thought To Education #coffeechugPLN

I was recently finishing up another magazine that I wanted to share out some ideas.

Inc. 32nd Annual Fastest Growing Private Companies in America 9.2013

Below are some thoughts that emerged while I read the articles.

1. Eric Paley (page 60) “The Myth of the Perfect Product”
Don’t wait until your product is perfect to build your business. You will be waiting forever.

I love thinking of this statement in education. As my building moves to Project Based Learning I think one of the issues we are running into (there are several) is that we (educators) think the project must be perfect, completely laid out, with precision details mapped out each day. We cannot just go and wing it, but we have to take an idea, build a framework, infuse it with passion and excitement, and run with it. Sometimes we have to just go and see how it develops and through the journey of learning we will find out what really works best. I really think that our lessons and projects should be just as much as learning for ourselves as educators as much as the students. We need to continue to improve our instruction and lessons, but we cannot wait for a perfect lesson because it will never exist and we will sit idle all day long.

2. As we rethink education, we have to sometimes develop an entrepreneur approach. When we think as an entrepreneur we cannot forget that this can create anxiety and some stress. Things will fail. Things will not work. You will make mistakes.

And it is okay.

The goal here is the process. The goal is to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone boundaries and explore what you are really capable of achieving. Through the ups and downs we have to be careful not to let it consume us completely. Give time for breaks and rest. Do something different for a fresh perspective. Never give up!

It makes me think of our robotic teams. They start off super excited when building and designing their new robots. Then they hit a wall when their plans don’t work and they cannot think their way through any other ideas. At this point we move to something different – our research project. We take a break. Year after year they come back to the robot with a whole new fresh perspective and make up so much ground by just getting away from it all. In the end, things just fall into place.

It is not that we give up, but understanding the ebb of flow of creativity and innovation and the process of acting upon it.

3. I just love this title. For me, I think in education we have to allow teachers to have full autonomy in their classroom. It is the duty of the teacher to then deliver high quality learning opportunities. If we provide teachers with freedom to teach, then we must be prepared for the valid criticism when we are not delivering. I feel that often times we sugar coat too much in education. We need to be strong enough to receive constructive feedback when we are not doing as good of a job as we can be. We expect our students to constantly take in feedback that tells them they are far from perfect. Why can’t educators be held to the same standard? We all make mistakes. We all have weaknesses. They key is to become aware and work on it. Don’t pout. Don’t whine. Get a backbone and challenge yourself to improve.

And just like my design series, there will be a Part 2 to this series.

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