My new home

Posted August 12, 2010 by musingsfromtheacademy
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My new home on the web is here. So far my posts have been more “domestic” than educational or technology related, but I am sure some ed tech will sneak its way in. :)

Moving on…

Posted July 7, 2010 by musingsfromtheacademy
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I know I haven’t written here in quite some time, but I am amazed by the comments I still receive on my posts. :) You guys are great!

Today I turned in my laptop and cleaned out my office. There will be no more “Musings from the Academy”.  I will keep the site up for people to stumble across, but I won’t be posting anything new.

I will be teaching from home online with Connections Academy (8th grade English and possibly Speech). I am looking forward to the new challenge and hope to have a great first year!

Once I get settled I might pick up writing again, and if I do, I will share the link to the new site here.

Until then… happy trails!

Musings…

Posted September 1, 2009 by musingsfromtheacademy
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It has been months since I have written here; and even longer since I have reflected and written on anything educational. I am not going to apologize for my absence because I needed a break, and just because I haven’t been writing and reflecting publicly, does not mean I have not been thinking. For the most part, I enjoy blogging, but, there are times when it starts to feel cumbersome or stagnant… times when I need to stop for a bit.

So, what is my inspiration? What has prompted me to write again after my months of silence?

Nostalgia.

The beginning of the school year always makes me nostalgic. Nostalgic for my first year teaching. Now, don’t get me wrong… my first year of teaching was hard (you can read about it here); but I was filled with zeal and enthusiasm and a naivety that I no longer have.  Oh, I still LOVE education and teaching, but there is nothing that matches the first year of your teaching career – when you walk in your classroom, see all of the desks and realize that YOU are in charge of imparting knowledge to a group of adolescents. It is terrifying and gratifying rolled in to one.

I love working with the new teachers; it helps me recapture a little of that lost idealism. It is fun to hear them discuss their students and talk about their lessons. And, it is gratifying to lend a helping hand when they start feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.

The first week of school is over, and we are in to the second week… and it is good to be here (maybe a little great actually).

So as I think about my first year teaching and the years that have passed since, I have some advice for you newbies:

  • Get to know your students because… they are worth knowing.
  • Give yourself a break when you need it – we all make mistakes; realize yours, correct it and move on.
  • LISTEN to your students and give them the respect that you would like.
  • Even that student who makes you want to tear your hair out is someone’s baby… so be patient and kind.
  • Keep learning and trying new things!
  • Ask for help AND take it.
  • Share your successes and failures with your colleagues.
  • And remember, that no matter how large and grown-up your students are, they are still adolescents who need guidance and understanding… cut them a break sometimes.

And for those of you who are new, I offer you hope… when you have a bad day with your students, I need you to relax, breathe and think, “they will thank me some day”… because they will.

I offer proof… Here are some words from a couple of my former students who have found me on Facebook.

“…I really do want to thank you for being such a great teacher, you cut me some slack sometimes and that made me try even harder because i knew i couldn’t let you down so thanks!!”

“…I’m in college right now. I go to the Art Institute and I’m going for culinary art….OMG who knew. Well thank you for everything……just to let you know you were my favorite teacher.”

Endure those tough days because it is worth it… THEY are worth it.

We’ve Got Openings!

Posted March 26, 2009 by musingsfromtheacademy
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We have come to the point in the year when we start scouring for new talent, and with the addition of new specialty areas and 150 students next year, we need some more great teachers.

A few of our current folks will be leaving us and we will need to add core teachers to support our growing campus; we will also need a Web Mastering teacher. I can’t give you a lot of  specifics yet, but if you are interested in working at an outstanding high school with an active one-to-one laptop program, please consider submitting your application.

We are always looking for innovative teachers who work well with students and would like to break out of the traditional educational mold.

You can find out more about The Academy by visiting our website – make sure to check out our specializations – and by watching this video produced by our Media Tech students.

Interested parties should fill out an online application with Irving ISD and e-mail a resume to Eric Creeger, 1st floor Vice Principal.  We hope to hear from you!

PLN Presentation – Reflection

Posted March 11, 2009 by musingsfromtheacademy
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I wrote last week about some thoughts I have about trying to get staff development credit for teachers who develop and are active in a personal learning network because as Will Richardson wrote about in this post, we try to individualize and personalize learning for our students… why would we not do the same for our teachers.

So, the Teaching and Learning Tuesday I offered after school yesterday focused on the importance of developing a PLN. I shared some info and demonstrated my PLN and then we brainstormed some ideas for staff development documentation and such. There were fourteen of us present and I think we had a decent discussion. Of course, after the presentation there were some things I wish I would have said, but that is always the case. :)

This is the presentation I used to help start the discussion.

http://docs.google.com/Presentation?id=dcbjp5x_4hvczrwdm

After talking with the teachers, my next step will be to develop a form of sorts where teachers will “document” what they are doing in their PLN. Once I have it developed, I am going to send it out to the teachers who attended the session so they can offer me some feedback and see if my creation is what they envisioned.

So, hopefully soon, we will be able to incorporate PLN into my school’s options for “official” staff development training. It really makes sense for our campus because we have such varied subjects that we teach and there are not a lot of learning resources in our district for a lot of our specialty teachers… it would be great for them to get “credit” for interacting and learning from professionals in their industry.

I will keep you all updated on our progress.

The Importance of Developing a Personal Learning Network

Posted March 4, 2009 by musingsfromtheacademy
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I am forever trying to improve upon the staff development opportunities offered on my campus because I would like them to be authentic and actually challenge and provoke thoughts and new ideas amongst my staff.

I always get reflective about our staff development practices during this time of year because, although I think my campus offers much more relevant and engaging PD than most campuses, our attendance begins to peter out once teachers have earned their “required staff development credit.” This irks me be because I need teachers to want to continually learn and grow – to learn for the sake of learning, trying new things and challenging themselves.

So, on my drive in to work the other day, I was thinking of how I learn best and where my content comes from… and surprise… it isn’t in staff development sessions. The majority of new ideas and new resources is introduced to me through my Personal Learning Network, so I began to formulate an idea of how to restructure our staff development to offer the same learning opportunity to my staff.

I would like them to understand what a PLN is, the importance of it, and how to develop one… and then… I would like to be able to “grant” them SD credit for participating and learning from their PLN.

So, I have a plan of how to do this in my mind, but I need some feedback from you all to help me get it organized.

So here are my thoughts…

  • The Teaching and Learning Tuesday that will be offered on Tuesday of next week will be a time for me to introduce the idea of PLN’s, demo the tools I use to develop and follow my PLN, have a few others share their PLN’s, and then brainstorm how to introduce the Personal Learning Network SD plan to the campus.
  • BTW – I am planning on sharing Google Reader, Twitter and Delicious as my main PLN tools (among with informal meetings with people on my campus).
  • Theses are my initial thoughts on the plan – teachers will “write” an individualized plan including what their PLN will entail, what they hope to learn and how they will incorporate these new ideas into their classroom.
  • The problem arises with granting the “credits.” The district requires each teacher to earn a certain amount of SD credits each school year and the hours have to be documented. My thought is that the plan teachers create will culminate in a presentation or “interview” with myself and/or the staff development VP where they can discuss what they learned and how they used this information to improve their teaching.
  • Teachers will be able to choose the topic they would like to learn more about (within the confines of district/campus goals).

So with that all said… here are the problems I forsee and need your help working out…

  • I don’t want the PLN staff development plan to result in “credit grubbing” and me or someone else having to decide that this person did something amazing so they earn 6 hours of credit while this person didn’t do much so they only earn 3 hours.
  • Essentially, I would like the PLN staff development plan to motivate teachers to learn more about their topic and the credits just be a bonus on the side.
  • And, how do I document all this stuff?

I would really love your thoughts, and if you are a member of my staff (and even if you are not, you are welcome to join us), I encourage you to attend Tuesday and help us brainstorm.

I have had some help in developing my thoughts on PLN’s and most of the ideas have come from some of the people I “follow.” Here are a couple of the posts that have helped spur my latest staff development undertaking:

All of these thoughts are a work in progress, so please leave me some feedback (constructive criticism encourage as well).

I Am Back… And Some Things to Think About

Posted February 18, 2009 by musingsfromtheacademy
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I returned to work yesterday after several weeks off for maternity leave. While on leave I have been using most of my online “free time” to document little Dylan’s life, but now that I am back to work, I want to share some of the educational and “professional”  things that have been on my mind.

To begin, I have a few articles and/or blog posts I would like to share with you all. They are things that have really gotten me thinking about the direction of education.

The first is a blog post from Jeff Utecht which discusses the possible demise of the traditional educational model with the creation of the University of the People. It is a good read with some interesting ideas.

The next is an article from Campus Technology which discusses how textbooks are evolving from printed to more “Web 2.0″ based. There are some great links to free online textbooks and some thought-provoking concepts.

And finally, this article from eSchools outlines how a Colorado district is reorganizing their schools from the traditional model. I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideas in this article.

With the ideas from these articles in my head, and some questions from some of my fellow staff members, I have begun to formulate a potential new plan for staff development opportunities on my campus… once I get my idea a little more organized, I will share it with you all to get some feedback.

Hopefully, I will begin posting and reflecting on a somewhat regular basis again…


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