Archive for February 10, 2014

Broadcasting School Events

brandedA great new podcast that I love listening to is BrandEd hosted by Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis.  Each episode shares ways that schools can communicate and share their positive news with parents/community.  We all know that we can’t count on news reporters to share the positive things happening in our schools, because the negative stories are the ones that make sensational headlines.  It is up to us to “tell our story” and share the great things we are doing in our school buildings.

I strive to “tell our story” by having a Principal’s Page on our website where I update pictures each month from my classroom walkthroughs to give parents a “window” into our school to see what our students are doing.  I also maintain a school Facebook page to not only share reminders, but easily share pictures/video clips of great things parents may not otherwise hear about.  (*If you’re wondering why I don’t have a Twitter account for our school it is because I surveyed parents and none of them were on Twitter).

Live-brodcastOn the most recent BrandEd podcast, they were joined by Joe Mazza who is well known on Twitter for starting #PTchat (parent teacher chat) and helping to pave the way for administrators and educators to open the door for connections with parents. In this interview with Joe, he shared the idea of broadcasting or having a livestream online from school events to allow parents to view even if they cannot attend in person.

I had heard of this idea before, but since I heard this podcast a week before a scheduled assembly I decided it was time to try it.  I set up an account at ustream.tv, created a channel for our broadcast, created a shortened weblink using bitly.com to make it easy for parents to type in, and then let parents know by sending home a flyer (yes, we still use those!) and put it on our Facebook page.  During our assembly, the highest number of viewers we had was 42, although I’m not sure how many were from our community, because I did also tweet it out.  I did have a few parents comment to me or on our Facebook page that they watched it and thought it was neat that we could do that.

Now that I have our first live broadcast under our belt, I’m wondering what other events should I broadcast to invite parents to be connected from home/work? I’d love to hear from other educators on what events you have broadcasted from your school. 

Wrestling with Feedback

Image from Binghamton Univ

Image from Binghamton Univ

For the past couple of months my evenings and weekends have been devoted to wrestling.  This is a new sport for me, but one my family is enjoying together as we watch and encourage my 8 year-old in a sport that he has found to love.

We have now been to 6 tournaments with the opportunity to watch him improve each time with feedback and guided practice from his coaches.  Whether it is a practice or a tournament I have found that his coaches are quick to give feedback in a positive way that is specific enough to tell him what he needs to do differently.  In addition to the verbal feedback they follow the Optimal Learning Model of “I do, we do, we do, you do” by modeling the move, then physically moving their body to practice it and then watching it as they practice the move with a partner while continuing to provide feedback.

While at tournaments I have been saddened to see how some coaches/parents respond to their wrestlers in a way that is certainly not helpful feedback.  I’ve heard comments such as, “You should have done better than that!” “I can’t believe you didn’t cradle him!” or “You let him pin you!”  I have also seen some of these wrestlers a few times now at different tournaments and see the difference in their progress compared to others.  Those that are given positive, encouraging feedback with specific ways to improve seem to improve each time and enjoy the sport whether they win or lose.  Others that have been given hard feedback only seem happy when they win and are practically devastated when they lose.  I can only predict that they won’t make it long in the sport.

I can’t help, but make this wrestling connection to what I have learned from the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and the idea of having a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.  I am also currently reading Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. Johnston talks about “yet” as a key word to help keep children from having a fixed mindset, that we want them to say, “I’m not good at this yet” and take steps to help them change that.  As I think about giving feedback in the school setting and as a parent, one quote from Johnston that sticks with me the most is:

“How we give children feedback is probably the most difficult for us to change, but it is probably the point of most leverage.”