Archive for September 9, 2013

You Know You’re a Connected Educator When…

Here is a cross-post from a post that I wrote for Edsurge. While I’ve written many posts about being a Connected Educator, this was a fun list to write! You can find the original post at Edsurge HERE.

CC by 2.0 Mike Licht

CC by 2.0 Mike Licht

1. The first words out of your mouth each day at school are usually, “Last night on Twitter…”

With Twitter it is easy to get sucked into conversations you never expected to have and to find ideas and resources that you didn’t even know you were looking for. Maybe you were just checking your twitter feed, maybe you joined in on a great discussion in a scheduled chat like #edchat, #educoach, #atplc (all things PLC), or your state’s educator chat. After being involved in a great sharing discussion on Twitter, it’s hard to “shut it off” and you just want to share what you’ve learned with others at school. I share the great ideas I find on Twitter by “Retweeting” them and sharing with my staff in my weekly memo.

2. Whenever a staff member in your building asks a question you can find many possible solutions on Twitter.

“Do you know of an iPad app for keyboarding?” “Can we look at other examples of standards based report cards?” “How do we get started with Battle of the Books?” “I’m struggling with ____ do you know any teachers that have been using this for a while?”

As a principal, I hear questions like this on a daily basis. Just because I don’t always know the answers, doesn’t mean I don’t have them. Prior to being connected on Twitter, I would have just sent out an email to the handful of principals that I know in nearby school districts. Now I turn to Twitter. I ask thousands of educators my question and find someone who’s an expert.

3. Need to meet up outside your building? You can turn to Skype, Google Hangout and Voxer.

Twitter is great to find ideas and get connected with others, but sometimes 140 characters just won’t do. To have more in-depth conversations I turn to Skype or Google Hangout. Voxer is great when you want to leave voicemails or walkie talkie back and forth with a group of principals/educators, allowing us to continue to have an ongoing audio discussion that all four of us can hear. Educators (both principals and teachers) are so busy, that it’s nearly impossible to find a large chunk of time for an extended conversation. Voxer allows you to leave each other messages (for one individual or for a group of people on Voxer) and pick up with the conversation whenever you have time to check in.

4. You read numerous blogs from other educators/administrators.

There are so many great educators sharing what works and what doesn’t. It can save you time from making the same mistakes. When I first discovered great blogs to read I would check each individual website weekly, wondering if there was a new post…but no one has time for that! Now I use the tool Feedly which allows me to subscribe to blogs. All I have to do is check Feedly when I have time to read the latest blog posts…no more wasting my time going to each individual site.

5. You look forward to attending conferences even more.

You probably enjoyed learning at conferences prior to being a Connected Educator, but conferences take on a new level of learning when you already know several of your “tweeps” (people you’re connected with on Twitter) will be there. Instead of just attending, taking notes on what you’re learning and thinking about it, you have others to discuss with and continue the conversation afterwards on Twitter. If there are many Connected Educators at the conference, then it’s likely that you’ll also get to socialize with them at a “Tweet Up” at the end of the day. It is very common for someone attending the conference to set a time/location for a “Tweet Up” (usually at a place for some choice beverages) and starting tweeting out the details with the conference hashtag so that anyone on Twitter attending the conference can meet up (thus the phrase “Tweet Up”) together to meet all their “Tweeps.”

6. Even if you don’t have time to blog/tweet, you do so in your head.

Blogging and tweeting can be such a great tool reflection. As stated in #4, blogging is not bragging; it is great to share your reflections online and get feedback from others in the comments to offer further suggestions or challenge your thinking. I only make the time to write a new blog post a couple times a month, but often find myself “blogging in my head” as I’m reflecting on something at school. Even though I don’t get to writing that blog post, the reflection process has been helpful for me.

7. You’re guilty of pulling out your phone to check Twitter while you’re in the bathroom.

I know I’m not alone. It only takes a minute to check Twitter. Find that minute waiting in line at the grocery store, muting TV commercials or yes, even in the bathroom.

8. You have learned more from Twitter than your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees combined.

I always intended to attain my doctorate in education. However, I have learned so much from being a Connected Educator that now I don’t feel a need to pursue higher education anymore. All this learning is at my fingertips for free. There is a wealth of free online learning opportunities; following the tweets of a conference hashtag as others tweet from it, joining in on free webinars that educators on Twitter organize, or joining MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) that you learn about from Twitter.

9. Your daily routine includes listening to educational podcasts.

Podcasts are a great way to continue your learning while walking the dog, cleaning your house or on your daily commute. I have first learned about the many choices out there via Twitter. Some of them include: Techlandia, TeacherCast, Choice Literacy, and any broadcast from the EdReach network. I love learning about best practices and new ideas from the tech/literacy/building level leaders that record these. Can’t find one that speaks to your topic? Then start your own! Just recently a couple other principals and I started the Principalcast Podcast since we couldn’t find anything specifically for principals.

10. You can easily recover from the isolation of your busy school day.

I like to refer to the isolation of busy educators as “Gilligan Syndrome,” which sets in when you get “stranded” and don’t know how to reach out to others for help. This is common for administrators, lone subject teachers or even busy teachers who don’t get to converse with their colleagues often. Utilizing the connections you make on Twitter is a great way to get yourself “unstuck;” you always have other educators to turn to when times get rough. To make the best of Twitter, figure out the strengths of the people you are following. You can always tweet out a question for everyone to see, but when you have a specific question it is great to know someone who is an expert on that topic to send a direct message to so you can talk to in a Google Hangout for further help.

*Gilligan Syndrome is a term that Curt Rees, Jay Posick, Matt Renwick and I have come up with as we present to educators in Wisconsin about becoming connected educators.

Introducing the PrincipalCast Podcast

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Podcasts have been a great tool for my personal professional learning, because it’s so easy to download and just listen while I’m getting ready in the morning, cleaning the house, walking the dog or in the car. I share with you several of the podcasts that I listen to on my Podcasts Page. For several years I enjoyed listening to the Practical Principals podcast, was sad that it discontinued and that I couldn’t really find any other podcast with principals that filled that void.

Principal Theresa Stager invited me to help her start a Principals Podcast, which we also invited Principal Dr. Spike Cook in on. Our first live podcast was quite interesting with many tech glitches, so Jeff Bradbury at TeacherCast.net offered to pick us up under his broadcasting network.

You can now find the #PrincipalCast Podcast live every Sunday night at 8:30 PM CST on teachercast.tv. You can join in the discussion on the chat box of that site or tweet using #principalcast in your tweet.

Each week we will be using the following format for our agenda:

  • What’s been happening?
  • Question from the newbie (new principal) or a hot topic for principals.
  • Something awesome
  • Keeping Current
  • Principals to Follow on Twitter

You can find the #Principalcast Podcast at principalcast.com Other ways to follow/connect with the podcast:

  • Email info@principalcast.com
  • Use the hashtag #principalcast on Twitter
  • Follow @PrincipalCast on Twitter

Starting the Year with a 1:1 iPad Initiative

In the current NAESP Principal Communicator online edition, you can find my article “Starting the Year with a 1:1 iPad Initiative” HERE.

Using Educreations for Screencasting

I’ve previously written about using the Educreations app in the classroom, but now the app got even better! I’d like to say to say that I had a part in it, but it’s only because I tweeted to @Educreations about a feature that I hoped would improve and they responded quickly that the change update would come soon (wish I saved that tweet for this post!)

Previously if you made a mistake in recording your voice, if you needed to start over, it also meant your screen would start over.  The update now allows you to clear the screen or clear the audio recording which makes the process easier if you make any mistakes.

In effort to keep supporting my teachers with our 1:1 iPad implementation, I’ve added an “iPad Tip of the Week” to my Friday Focus post for staff.  So far, I’m just starting out with very basic tips. Last week was how to add bookmarks to your homescreen and how to create folders. This week I wanted to share how to change the default email signature so it no longer says “sent from my iPad.” To also show my use of the iPad, I used Educreations to create a quick screencast to show teachers how to change their email signature and to show that I am also using an app that they can use with their students. The beauty of this? It took me less than 5 minutes to create! Thank you Educreations!

I’m Not a Tech Expert -from the Monday Musings Post

Just sharing with you this week’s “Monday Musings” post to my staff from my memo blog:

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Image from Venosdale

I’ve always felt pretty tech savvy…I love learning about what new web 2.0 tools or iPad apps are out and I catch on pretty quickly.  I feel like that all changed when I got my new laptop a few weeks ago…it was only 5 minutes after Brad brought me my new device that I called his office to ask “how do I scroll?” Yes, you heard that right, I couldn’t even scroll down on a webpage.  Go ahead and laugh (I know I did).  You were all witness to my lack of skills with this MacBook Pro in our first staff meeting when I couldn’t get anything to work right.  After a couple of weeks with it now, I am getting used to it, but still turning to google, youtube or “phone a friend” almost daily to learn how to do things that are different than on a PC.  I am also learning really neat features that I could never do before.

Why do I share this with you? Because I know that, for some of you, going 1:1 with iPads might feel the same way.  I know that it’s hard to say “don’t worry,” but I do encourage you to not be afraid of them and model your learning for your students.  As teachers, we don’t have to be the experts of everything that gets imparted to our students.  When we show students that we don’t always know how to do something, but learn until we figure it out, we are modeling for them exactly what lifelong skill we want them to have.
I know I’ve said this in a previous Monday Musings post, but want to share it again:
We do not have to be experts at the tools…we have to be experts at learning and show students what it is like in real life to not know the answer or not know how to do something. To be successful in life you need to know how to find it out. Or as Will Richardson says we have to be able to “learn, unlearn and relearn.”
 
Image from Venosdale