Leaving a Legacy

I’ve been working with my middle school student advocate team. Together we are learning about leaving a legacy and the importance of advocating for themselves and their school. In my opinion there is no better time for this than during the middle school years. By nature middle school students know that they can change the world. Watching them come together for three days with three other local middle schools was incredible. They fed off one another’s energy as they came up with these plans to each leave a legacy.

One of the iniatives of my team is to teach teachers and students to better use their devices–in authentic ways in class. As we are 1:1 iPads, this is brilliant, timely, and useful. I felt I needed to come up with ways to encourage and assist them with this goal. Today at our meeting I borrowed some tips from Jennie Magiera’s session at GAEtc.

We practiced teaching one another by doing it one step at a time, hands behind our backs, counting to three while we use our voices and not our hands. Tough, of course, when we’d rather do it for our partner! After some practice, they got the hang of it and we came up with a list of useful techy things we’ll teach our peers….theirs and mine!

Failing with Pride

As I watched a middle school drama class last week, I am again reminded how much we as adults can learn from our students. The teacher was telling her students that they needed to fail with pride and as they did, the class was to applaud each time for both the error and learning from that error. What would happen if each and every one of us taught our students this message? What would happen if each and every one of us lived this lesson in our own professional and personal lives?

I watched these sixth graders, in their first week of middle school, many nervous inside, happily failing with pride. And I watched their teachers model this for them.

What an amazing start to middle school. What I hope is that creating this amazing culture of risk-takers in our students is the beginning of something incredible.

Creating a Positive Culture for Innovation

For many of us the year either has started or is about to start. Those first few weeks are the most important in establishing positive culture in our classrooms. In my school we’re moving to 1:1 iPads, so creating a risk-taking culture where students know the boundaries but aren’t afraid to make mistakes is so important.

#satchatoc had a meaningful discussion about establishing a culture of innovation in schools. Building this culture of innovation and creativity is essential to bring schools and students into the present and get them ready to lead in the future.

This idea of creating a culture where students and educators alike utilize technology to problem-solve and create a better world is an ongoing theme in education.

How do we encourage creativity and innovation in the classroom? Creation tools like iMovie, Educreation, Explain Everything, Thinglink, blogging, and Book Creator can help.

So, how do we get people to this place of innovation?

As educators we are always working to better ourselves, trying to learn so that we can share our ideas with our students. By being connected, we open a whole world (literally) of information and people to learn from. This chat is a perfect example as it is called #satchatoc; is based in Oceania yet draws an international crowd.

Modeling multiple solutions to questions as well as big ideas is huge! If we as the model in schools can get this and show our students that often problems do not have just one answer, it makes it okay for them to take risks, grow, and seek multiple answers to questions.

Moral of the story: what we do week one with our teachers and our students to create a positive culture where taking risks becomes the norm will determine how our year goes.

How are you starting your year?

Summer of Learning

photo credit Theresa Stager

   As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Francisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to continue to make learning more engaging for our students: an ongoing goal for many. I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Fransisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to  continue make learning more engaging: an ongoing goal for many.

I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

 Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Photo by Alan Taylor


Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Photo by Alan Taylor

 

In the South this is our last week of school for students. A parent commented to me, Aren’t you glad the school year is almost over, Jodi?

To which my response was something like….

It gets quite quiet around here without the students. Our entire purpose is them. No. I’m not glad it’s almost over. I get sad and miss them while I’m alone in the quiet building.

I think I caught her off guard. There are Facebook postings, Twitter captions, and on and on about teachers being off for the summer. What message are we sending? Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that we all need time off. Time to re-charge. Time with our families. Time for some choice professional growth. Time to rest and recuperate.

I get it. I’ve never been one to count down until the end of school, though. I hear people starting in February. Fourteen more Mondays.

Being around students and teachers invigorates me. I allows me to learn, grow, and be who I am.

Soon the process of closing down and getting ready for the new school year will begin. And the building…

Well, it will be just a little too quiet for me!

https://jodimoskowitz.com/2015/05/18/754/

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Who Are We?

Opening Slides

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Who are we? Where do we come from? What makes us who we are? Is it nature or nurture? For me, my family and the traditions that I was brought up with are so much of who I am that it is engrained in everything that I do.

I believe that I should be better today than I was yesterday.

I should have a disregard for the impossible.

My Bubeh and Zayde (great grandparents) came from Russia as young adults. As a child, I used to walk my Bubeh to the restroom because she couldn’t read English. In spite of not having a formal education, she raised four children. When school called, she had learned the formal system; she showed up, and whatever that teacher said was right! And boy oh boy, you didn’t mess with her! All that in spite of not reading. That perseverance came in handy; I remember her telling stories of the Cossacks raiding her village time after time as a child growing up.

My grandmother: she was the kid whisperer. Even though she wasn’t the most social person, she could strike up a conversation with any child whether we were in line at a store or wherever. She had an innate ability to bond immediately with them. When my sister and I both became teachers, she started buying books for each of our classroom libraries because, “They need to learn to read!”

She became a widow way too young and got the equivalent of a minimum wage job to support her four young children; she saw to it that each made it to college graduation. Her youngest, much to her dismay had a dream of being an actor. But she saw to it that he lived out that dream and went to Juliard on a full-ride scholarship to live out that dream -it wasn’t her dream but what her children wanted she saw to!

So how does this connect to my vision of education and to me?

That risk-taking of my grandma and bubeh?

As a first-year teacher I found myself in the inner-city where most of my second-grade students couldn’t read the pre-primer words. Innovation was where it was. The grade level text wasn’t going to cut it. Business as usual wasn’t cutting it for those kids. I knew that like my family before me I was going to have to take a risk and do it differently and get my students through several years of school in one year. Because after all, we all know the research: jail cells in Georgia are built based on the number of third-grade students not reading on grade level…and I wasn’t going to let my babies be part of that statistic! So as a twenty-two year old fresh out of college I broke the mold and I set the course for my career.

I was going to be a risk-taker. I was going to be an innovator.

These are beliefs that I have never stopped.

I have lived my educational career this way. I believe in this growth mindset. This is the legacy that I want to leave. We have to be innovators if we want our students to be.

What if we all committed to learning together? To innovating together? To figuring it out together.

Entry-Level Technology or True Integration?

What Do Trash Cans Have to Do with Teaching?

This week I am humbled to be part of a group of accomplished educators in this historic NBCTsonthehill event. Together eighteen of us from all over the country have been brought together to help Ron Thorpe and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards move forward with their vision of making National Board Certification the norm for educators.

In the words of the CEO of NBPTS, Ron Thorpe, we can’t become a true profession by saying, I’m good. Trust me. We need to prove it. To this I have to say I agree; in every other aspect of our teaching lives we use evidence.

Ramona Lowe likens teachers to the surgeon who calms a nervous patient telling him not to worry because he is too good of a surgeon for him to die. Well, we should all be too good of teachers for our students to fail….or have anything less than success!

Those of us in education know that we must have relationships with our students. First and foremost before we can teach them or have a well-managed classroom it’s about the relationships we make. Knowing this, Siema Swartzel had her students create the trash can band kids. They created music in a way that was meaningful to them, and as a result of building this rapport, she saw huge gains in some of her toughest students.

Principals Mary Harris and Kiela Sneider have both created an amazing culture in their schools through National Board Certified Teachers. In Mary’s case, establishing the culture of accomplished teaching. Kiela used the reflective nature of the National Board process to naturally improve a high needs school. The turn-around in student progress is quite impressive, and even once she moved on from that school, the results remain.

We want this culture of accomplished teachers. Lisa Markussen agrees that having this high concentration of NBCTs creates this collaborative culture. In contrast to medicine, says Rhonda Blankenship, most teachers are still working in isolation. Jeffrey Wright sums it up well; in medicine students are taught by board certified doctors. That’s not the case in teaching.

National Board Certification for the Masses: What Would that Look Like?

Imagine a teaching force of accomplished educators who are reflective about their practice, knowledgeable about the content they teach and how best to teach it to their students, and willing to look deeply at themselves through data and videos to improve their craft. Current research done in several states tells us that the students in National Board Certified Teachers’ classrooms gain an average of one month’s ELA instruction and two months’ math instruction over a year’s time compared to the students in non-NBCT’s classrooms. One study was done in LA Unified. Another was done in Gwinnett County, Georgia. There is also research on the positive gains of students in the classrooms of NBCTs of low-income and minority students.

So what would it look like if from the time every undergraduate began an education program, the Five Core Propositions of National Board became part of the language –if from the beginning it was understood that the end result was that educators needed this Board Certification. If we were talking about being accomplished teachers from the start of our programs and learning that this would be the end result –that the highest achievement that a teacher can achieve–NBCT– was the expectation, much like it is for a doctor, could we build an even stronger profession in the way the medical profession has?

For many teachers reflection comes naturally. These teachers go back at the end of the day and ask themselves what went well and what could go better. They figure out why they didn’t get through to that one student who was taught that lesson in three different ways and still didn’t grasp the concept. Those are the teachers who take responsibility when students don’t understand. These are the teachers who understand that good classroom management starts with good relationships. But what about those who aren’t as reflective? For those of us who went through the National Board process, consider what seeing ourselves on video for the first time did for our practice. What would that do for education overall if every teacher went through this process?

A nation of reflective, accomplished practitioners; stronger teacher-student relationships; better student engagement; and therefore a more professional profession? Could National Board Certification be one way to strengthen our profession?

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