As I prepared my room for the new school year back in August, I did a lot of thinking about the hallway bulletin board that is under my control. I hate doing bulletin boards, generally speaking. In this post, I walk through the process of creating an interactive bulletin board for students to color.
Many teachers, in fact probably most teachers, are always looking for ways to help students engage with the content being taught. Student engagement is perhaps the holy grail of teaching. Many teacher evaluation systems have it as a standard or indicator, which increases the motivation of teachers to locate that elusive cup. In researching creativity with my master's partner, Kristy Graber, we came across a nugget that might lead us to the holy land of student engagement.
"I'm not creative" is something I have heard everywhere I have taught, uttered by student and educator alike. In fact, one of the first things that drew me to Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like A PIRATE, was his stance on creativity. In his book and in person, Dave talks about creativity and the hard work it entails.
If you aren't using Google Forms, it's time to up your game and this post may help get inspired to give it a try. If you are using Forms regularly or at least frequently, this post is for you too. Although Forms can help you quickly and easily gather data and artifacts for assessing student learning, this post isn't really about that. My focus here is more on the aesthetics of those Forms.
I attended the 2022 TCEA Convention in Dallas, Texas, this past week and had the time of my life. Put me in a room with other educators who are as passionate about pedagogy, educational technologies, and students, and I'm in my happy place. Add to that an exhibitor's hall full of a plethora of Edtech companies from all over the nation and world, and I'm walking on clouds. Seeing my friends from social media platforms in person, face to face again, was the icing on the cake.
Whether or not you consider yourself an organized teacher or person, in the era of pandemic teaching, I've learned that it is crucial to organize courses within my learning management system (LMS) in a way that helps students who are not in class for whatever the reason. It took a pandemic to make me reconsider how I structure my activities and assignments within the LMS so that all students are clear on what we are doing, when we are doing it, and how we are doing it. I should have thought of this a long time ago, but the pandemic really brought this need to the forefront. Now that I know better, I do better.
As you know, I love to teach students several tools and then let them choose the one they prefer for different activities we do in class. It can be challenging to find the time for students to learn those new tools in this fast paced data driven world we've created. When you are in a smaller district and are the only one who teaches those subjects or classes, then finding time isn't so hard. However, for those in larger districts who have to keep pace with all the other teachers of that class or subject, that's when we have to think "inside the box," as George Couros would say. How can we we still allow for student choice and creativity when time constraints mean it is hard to teach a variety of tools quickly?
We've all had to deal with others who call us names, and those who make assumptions and judgements about us. How we handle those and the resulting after waves of self-doubt can determine current and future successes, well-being, and resiliency. I've frequently looked back on that old saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me," with amazement. Words certainly can hurt us.
As an English teacher, reading as always been a love of mine personally, as well as a focus of mine professionally. As a high school teacher, though, I have not been taught HOW to teach the reading skills. My expertise is in the analysis and comprehension of texts, so when the district begins to talk about having the English teachers facilitate reading intervention, I throw up my hand to point out that I have no literacy training. I'm probably not the only teacher this has happened to, and if we're being honest, it is up to everyone in a district to ensure all students can read and have the tools necessary to help them be successful readers.
My hat is off to all educators out there who just survived one of the hardest years, if not THE hardest, in education to date. If we never hear the words “flexibility” and “pivot” again, life would be grand. However, as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year, there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it.