This past week I attended Techspo 18 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. For once I did not present and focused on learning. Don't get me wrong, I am always learning through interacting with my PLN, reading, and observing the great things that are going on in our schools. But at least a handful of times a year, I really try to attend educational events as a participant. I enjoy sitting in on sessions, having informal conversations, visiting with vendors, and taking in the keynote addresses. Here a list of things I learned about at Techspo 18...
Don Wettrick's keynote address was phenomenal! He challenged folks in the room to truly think about the innovative learning experiences they are supporting or not supporting. In simple terms: Innovate or Die. I enjoyed listening to the stories and insights he shared related to Kodak, Moore's Law, 20% time, Linchpin mentality, and schools making the entrepreneurial shift. Check out Don's website, StartEdUp for a plethora of innovation ideas and resources. Also, check out his book titled Pure Genius for further motivation and guidance on the very important topic on innovation. As yourself as an educator: Are we really listening to our customers?
I challenge you to attend an educational event in the near future and learn about something new or how some traditional method has been modernized. Ask questions and network with individuals to gain as much insight as humanly possible. We owe to ourselves as educators, especially if we are the ones presenting most of the time, to stay current with trends that will ultimately impact the success of students.
Looking for an educational event that will help you evolve as an educator? Consider attending the 4th Annual Tomorrow's Classrooms Today Conference at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ on Friday, May 18 an Saturday, May 19. Eric Sheninger and Salome Thomas-El are the keynote speakers. Over 80 innovative sessions will be offered that focus on learning spaces, STEM, paperless environments, assessment, blogging, coding, digital creation, and so much more. Visit the conference website at http://www.evolvingeducators.com/2018-tomorrows-classrooms-today-conference.html for more information.
For the past six years I have moderated #Satchat, a Twitter Chat for educators from all walks of life. #Satchat was founded by Scott Rocco and I back in 2012. Soon there after, Billy Krakower joined our team, and the rest is history. It takes place every Saturday morning at 7:30 EST. #Satchat is one of the longest running educational chats and appreciates the hundreds of participants that tweet out on a weekly basis. Educators also have an opportunity to not only participate, but actually guest moderate #Satchat. They can select the topic, develop questions, and interact participants during the hour long Q&A. Once people drink the Twitter Chat juice, they often want to take a risk and start their own weekly educational chat. When this happens, people will reach out to me and ask what types tools are used to conduct a Twitter Chat. Way back in 2014 I wrote a blog post titled 10 Tools to Start a Twitter Chat to steer educators in the right direction. Here is an updated version of the list...
1. Twitter: This will be used to hold the chat. Make sure to choose a simple hashtag name. Some research will take place in order to determine if a hashtag you are thinking about is actually available. Use the search box on Twitter and type in the hashtag to see if it's available. and use a Q1/A1 format in order for participants to follow the discussion. Promote your Twitter discussion on a daily basis leading up to the chat.
2. Buffer: This tool allows users to pre-schedule Tweets. I recommend pre-scheduling some of your tweets in advance of your chat to free up some time to interact with participants during the chat.
3. Participate: This phenomenal and interactive website enables Twitter chats to be archived and accessed by users. A great feature of this website is that it provides users with the ability to build their own content based off of a particular educational hashtag. It also provides useful analytics and sharing features.
4. Canva: Simple graphic design software that gives users the ability to create images that contain questions and promotional content for your chat.
5. Voxer: Extend your half hour or hour long Twitter chat using this messaging app. Questions can be discussed in more detail throughout week. Voxer puts a voice behind the tweet.
6. Cybraryman's Twitter Chat Page: Tremendous resource for all of your Twitter chat and hashtag needs.
7. Facebook: Start a Facebook fan page for your Twitter chat to keep people up to date. Great way to promote content, upcoming chats, and extend the conversation.
8. Smore: Promote your Twitter chat with this online poster tool. It's easy to set up and edit.
9. Google Sheets: Create a useful spreadsheet to house questions for your Twitter chat. It allows multiple users to collaborate on the spreadsheet in real time.
10. 140 Twitter Tips for Educators: Get Connected, Grow Your Professional Learning Network and Reinvigorate Your Career. This book was written by the founders of Evolving Educators LLC. It's a one stop shop book on everything educators need to know the impact of Twitter in their profession.
Brad has been an educator for more than 17 years as a coach, teacher, and administrator. He currently serves as a Director of Planning, Research, and Evaluation for the Chester School District in Chester, New Jersey. Brad is the 2017 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year and part of the ASCD Emerging Leaders Class of 2014. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of a weekly Twitter discussion for educators called #satchat. Brad has authored four books including 140 Twitter Tips for Educators and Hacking Google for Education. He presents nationally on leadership, teaching, and learning in the digital era. Brad currently serves as an adjunct professor in Drew University's Graduate School of Education. He also is a Google Certified Trainer and supports districts in implementing Google Apps for Education. Connect with Brad by following him on Twitter @thebradcurrie or visiting his company website at www.evolvingeducators.com.
A new year is upon us and with that comes an opportunity for educators to find new ways to enhance their effectiveness and promote the success of all students. Evolving as an educator should be something that is ongoing, that not only helps yourself grow, but others as well. Make it your mission this year to share the ideas and resources of others in the field of education, more than sharing your own ideas and resources, in order to underscore the importance that the world of education is no longer in isolation. Truly reflect on the ratio of what you put out there related to you as an individual versus others that you work with or that are part of your PLN.
Truth be told, I really try to share the great work and ideas of others more than my own work. Social media posts, blogs, books, podcasts, events, instructional practices, leadership methods, and other educational items can be shared out both in the physical and virtual worlds. Whether at a faculty meeting or a tweet, great things are going on and other people need know about it. I really believe that every single educator out there has something great to share. Over the past ten years or so it has become easier to share out ideas and resources to the masses through various devices and web applications. I implore you to take it upon yourself this year and commit to sharing the ideas and resources that others have to offer.
Don't get me wrong, it's still important to share out the wonderful things that you are doing as an educator. In fact, each morning I look forward to reading blogs and social media posts that others put out there. One tip that I like to promote is using a tool like Feedly to keep track of all your favorite online content. Most of what I share out across my social channels comes from Feedly. If I see a post from someone like Eric Sheninger or Monica Burns, I share it out directly from my Feedly feed. Other times I scroll through Facebook groups or Edsurge email insights to stay current with innovations. Once a day I really try to commit to sharing someone else's idea or resource. More often than not, I am able to share someone else's work two or three times a day. It could be on social media, via email, in an observation report, or through an informal conversation.
One thing I do twice a month is push out a list of five educational resources to my colleagues. When I come across a great blog post, article, or tool I make sure to bookmark and include in the next blast. It's called the Bulldog Bulletin, as our mascot is the Bulldog. Staff enjoy reading it for the most part and will sometimes send me resources they come across to include in the next blast. On the same note, you might want to subscribe to the Evolving 8 which comes out on a monthly basis and contains many great resources.
Right now take a few moments to reflect on how often or how little you share the work of others. Either way, somewhere around five shares a week is a good starting point. Pay special attention to what is going in your classroom, school, district, or organization and think about how what you experience can help other educators. At the end of the day people don't know what they don't know and it's up to you as a lead learner to let others to stay in the loop of best practices. Sharing brings inspiration to so many and motivates the unmotivated to try something new. It all goes back to helping students and the only way this can be accomplished is continuously sharpening your own saw and the saws of others.