Thursday, February 23, 2017

Recharged and Pumped UP!

NO STUDENTS!  This kind of a day can bring mixed emotions by all teachers.  One is relief that you don't have to be working non-stop all day with the noise and chatter of a full school and a full classroom, yet at the same time you are perturbed that you DON'T have your students because there is so much to teach and so little time for them to learn it. Just how often do you go into a staff development excited to be there and waiting for it to start with baited breath?  Honestly, not very often.

Monday was one of those exceptions for me.  I was so excited to be able to hear not one, but TWO great speakers. I woke up early and was looking forward to going!  I was given the privilege to join one of my campuses to hear Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer.  She has been one of my favorite reading experts for years.  She did NOT disappoint! She reminded us of how a Reader's Workshop should and could look like.  She said that digital reading is just as effective, if not more so with today's children than ever before. Reading digitally can allow those students to have access to more books than ever before, hear the book aloud without castigation, or being chastised, and can continue the reading in any location with different devices.
She spoke of differentiation in a different way than what we normally think. There were four avenues for her focus: Content, Process, Product and Learning Environment.  In the last three phases, she spoke of how technology could and should play a roll in these. The Process and Product can be paper/pencil, digital (recording, creating, reading, manipulating) with the Learning Environment including computers, laptops, iPods, iPads, Chromebooks, etc. In all of these, she emphasized CHOICE.  Without choice, the students lack the desire to engage. One of our district's 4 C's is Curiosity.  How can they be curious without choice?  This got me to thinking of so many options for teachers.  I immediately thought of Choice Boards.  Donalyn Miller spoke of dividing a sheet into Tic-Tac-Toe boards and writing choices on them for the students to choose.  She mentioned that writing should be published in some form or fashion. My brain flew to podcasting, Explain Everything App, creating student websites,  blog sites, Twitter, etc. I could go on and on about all of these things!  I love READING and I love technology!  These two can coexist, intermingle, infuse each other, etc.   Let's get reading on!

Do you know the difference between a good teacher and a GREAT teacher?  I do now, more than ever! My second part of the day was even more exciting, if that were possible.  Todd Whitaker, author of so many books, spoke specifically from his title What Great Teachers Do Differently.  He was funny, engaging and made you squirm.  You know what I mean...when learning and growing becomes uncomfortable, but you know that you need it. Here are many of the points that I gleaned from it:
  1. We all got into education to make a difference. It's people, not programs that determine the quality of the school.
  2. Teaching reading is a teacher's job. Teaching the LOVE of reading is a teacher's gift.
  3. To change student behavior, you first must change ADULT behavior.
  4. Great teachers have higher expectations for themselves than even for their students.
  5. You are the only variable that matters in the classroom.
  6. Be positive! Seek out the "bad attitude teacher" and sidle up beside them.
  7. Treat everyone, parents, students, teachers, administration, etc. with RESPECT!
  8. Great teachers have a filter before it comes out of their mouths. Learn to handle discipline without escalating the situation.
  9. Teach and reflect, then adjust accordingly.
  10. Treat people as if they are GOOD.
  11. Focus on student learning, not the test.
  12. Whiner's whine because it works! Great teachers look to themselves as to how they can make it better.
  13. Be ON everyday...10 out of 10!
  14. Three things to NEVER do is:  Never Argue, Never use Sarcasm, Never Yell.
What a great day it was! What both speakers mentioned was the power of TWITTER! Both of them proclaimed that Twitter is the largest and easiest method of professional development available and that it is the most underused avenue with teachers.  Twitter allows you to connect with teachers, principals, all educators of all kinds from all over the world. You can talk and interact with your favorite "gurus" of education.  Try it.  You will be amazed that they will tweet back at you and it is NOT automatic replies, either. They are true, sincere and live!  You can follow me on this blog, on Twitter where my Twitter handle is @Buffkota.  Sign up today for a Twitter account. If you need help and want to know more about this and how it can help you, just email me.  I would LOVE to show you!


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