that zero changed my life
Reflecting on an article I keep seeing on social media about the teacher getting fired for supposedly not abiding by the school’s grading policy. As a student, did I ever get a zero? Sure. Was it right? I guess. As a teacher, did some of my students receive zeros? Probably. Was it right? Probably not. As an instructional leader do I support the idea of students receiving zeros? In most cases, the answer is no. The bottom line is that we must exhaust all options to promote the success of each and every student regardless of how much they are driving us crazy or might seem too lazy to complete any work. I can remember as a teacher and team leader working with a small group of 7th grade students during my lunch. They had lost their way and learning was not a top top priority due to extenuating circumstances at home. They would come into my classroom and complete work that was way overdue in several of their classes. Over time they started to catch up and realized that we were not going to let them dig a deeper hole for themselves.
Often I think we as educators believe it’s easier to teach students a life lesson by giving them a zero because we need to prepare them for the real world. When in fact we need to think about building supportive and engaging learning environments that not only show students that we care about them but also holds everyone accountable. I can remember as a student sitting out the first half of a basketball game because I was not holding up my end of a bargain. You know what? I deserved it. In more recent years, both as a teacher and administrator, there were a few occasions where students were not being responsible and they needed to be held accountable. Did that mean I got a zero? No. Something that meant so much to me was taken away for short while. I still needed to make up the work and learn the material.
The whole zero thing is an easy way out for all parties involved. Now, if there is a point where all options have been exhausted and nothing has changed than we can have a discussion about who deserves what grade. The research is very clear in this area of education. John Hattie tells us that that a teachers estimate of student achievement has a 1.29 effect size. Additionally, Hattie tells us that teacher credibility has a .90 effect size. The research makes it abundantly clear that if teachers believe their students can achieve desired learning outcomes they will. On that same note, students know if you as a teacher are legit and subsequently will either rise to the occasion or not really care about learning. Students also know if you as an instructional leader are legit as it relates to keeping a pulse on what is or is not going on in school.
The important thing here is to keep having these sorts of conversations with your colleagues, school stakeholders, and most importantly students. Take a look at my friend Eric Sheninger’s blog post on a similar topic from back in 2013:
Keep fighting the good fight my friends!
Brad has been an educator for more than 18 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 five books including the newly released Tech Request: A Guide for Coaching Educators in the Digital World. 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.
140 Twitter Tips for Educators is a book for educators written by educators. It has helped thousands of teachers and administrators expand their personal learning networks and reinvigorate their careers. There is no doubt that over the past decade Twitter has helped support educators with sharing resources and reflecting on how they impact student success. Recently, the Evolving Educators came out with three new Twitter tips in response to the collective disappointment that the educational community is having with the way certain individuals are using Twitter in not so appealing ways.
We are seeing trends where some educators think they are challenging the thoughts of others, when in fact they are being incredibly negative and offering no solutions. This is how Twitter Tip #141 came about and simply recommends to unfollow Negative Nellies. Twitter Tip #142 highlights the importance of really looking at who actually follows you and why they are following you. There are some educators out there using programs that mass follow Twitter accounts for the simple reason of actually gaining more followers. This past year we saw Twitter roll back the verified account process in response to some outrageous accounts that were being approved without much thought. This is how Twitter Tip #143 was born. We recommend researching the verified accounts you are following and ask yourself is that the type of person, place, or thing you really want to be associated with.
Twitter Tips for Educators is a book for educators written by educators. It has helped thousands of teachers and administrators expand their personal learning networks and reinvigorate their careers. There is no doubt that over the past decade Twitter has helped support educators with sharing resources and reflecting on how they impact student success. Recently, the Evolving Educators came out with three new Twitter tips in response to the collective disappointment that the educational community is having with the way certain individuals are using Twitter in not so appealing ways.
Typically we try to focus on all the positive and unbelievable things that are happening in the world of education. Without Twitter, many of us would not be connected with the great minds and ideas like we are today. From time to time though, we feel it necessary to give people a heads up on things we are hearing about from our friends in the educational community. This summer make sure to share your favorite Twitter tips using the hashtag #140EduTips. Interested in bulk pricing for an online book talk or staff resource? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, we can come out to your school or district and provide staff with Twitter training. There is no better tool than Twitter to tell your story and/or stay current with educational best practices. Get your copy of 140 Twitter Tips today!
Have you read 140 Twitter for Educators? That's awesome! Please leave a review on Amazon if you have a few minutes. We would greatly appreciate it.
Do You Share Enough?
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.
Recently I was recognized as the 2017 National Assistant Principal of the Year by NASSP. With this distinction came an opportunity to procure educational resources for Black River Middle School. For years, I wanted to find an easy to capture events and share them virtually with school stakeholders. Through my research and past experiences, I knew about the Swivl as a way to record, archive, and share video content. I was always impressed with the way it tracked movement and picked up sound clearly. So I ultimately decided to purchase a Swivl for our school as way to capture moments, like you see below with a Holocaust survivor, that will live online for a lifetime.
So how can a Swivl benefit your classroom, school, or district? Here are four easy ways that I can think of right off the top of my head...
As you can see there many ways to make the Swivl work for your educational environment. Start out by locating a school or district that uses a Swivl and ask if you can take it for a test run. Then, at some point purchase a Swivl and try it out at a small event. Eventually, over time it will become a part of your daily routine and help enhance your transparent environment. Make sure to establish a Swivl team consisting of staff and students to help with the integration aspect. Ideally having multiple Swivls accessible for sign-out from your library will be very beneficial. The time is now to extend your role as story teller in chief and purchase a Swivl for all enjoy throughout the school year.
I recently wrote a digital playbook for Think Through Math on building a digital curriculum. You can access it by clicking on the pdf file below. Enjoy!
Math Help for Parents
My son is in 5th grade and with that comes harder math problems. Parents, including my wife and I (mostly my wife though), sit down with our children on a nightly basis to assist with working through some really complex material. Since most of us have not experienced this sort of problem solving since high school, it can become really overwhelming. There are two math apps that can provide parents with some background knowledge on solving tough math problem. WolframAlpha can help parents understand the steps that need to be taken to work out a certain math problem. The PhotoMath App allows parents to take a picture and obtain an answer for a particular math problem. Khan Academy and Common Sense Media’s Common Core Explorer are also exceptional resources that will help you brush up on your math methodology. Looking for additional research based programs and resources aimed at addressing the “at home math gap?” Look through Think Through Math’s research section for more information. By no means are these resources an antidote for the stressful environment math homework creates, but at least it’s a start.
Brad Currie is the author of the newly released 140 Twitter Tips for Educators. His other books include All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities and Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Google Certified Trainer. Brad currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He speaks and presents nationally about technology integration. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.