The 2nd Annual Better Together California Teachers Summit is taking place on Friday, July 29 at over 30 locations around the state of California. Last year over 15,000 educators attended this event to share, collaborate, learn, and network with one another. This free event will inspire and push educators to impact student success in ways once thought unimaginable. Want to get a glimpse of what this unique experience will be like? Check out the event YouTube channel, follow the #CATeachersSummit hashtag, or "like" the Facebook page.
So how can educators be "better together" in 2016? There are so many ways that resources and ideas can be shared in the physical and virtual world. For some, Twitter is the "go to" resource to stay current with educational trends and connect with like minded educators. Others prefer attending their local Edcamp so they can share insight and speak with people face to face about topics that are near and dear to their hearts. Another great way for educators to collaborate and learn from one another is right in their very own schools by way of the Pineapple Chart initiative. Finally, educators can utilize Periscope to watch live or archived shows about best practices that are taking place in classrooms, schools, and districts.
There are so many ways that educators can be "better together" through tech and non tech methods. A commitment to growing professionally and risk taking are two key ingredients that go a long way with being entrenched in this way of life. Start today by choosing one of the "better together" options listed above and watch how you move from good to great. This will not only change who you are as an educator, but ultimately impact the success of all students.
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.n
Burying our students. Sounds scary right? Sadly it's happening all over the world. Educators from all walks of life are allowing or helping students dig a hole that they can't possibly get out of. Have I been guilty of this before? Probably, and all for the sake of sending a message and holding them accountable for their actions. Why? Because it will prepare them for the real world. Really? Last I checked, I live and work in the real world and always get second chances. And so should students.
Giving students a zero or letting them earn a zero is the easy way out in my opinion. Look, as a teacher I made the same error early on in my career. A student didn't hand in the assignment or project? No problem, you just earned yourself a zero. I will teach you a lesson. Really? As time went on though, I realized that there must be a better way. I would make sure every option imaginable was exhausted in order to put this student in a position to succeed. I would also question whether or not I was providing engaging learning experiences. Towards the end of my teaching career, I finally felt that I truly was doing right by kids. It was no longer cool to bury them and basically give them no chance to somehow learn the material on their terms.
As I transitioned to administration I wanted to make sure that student's best interests were kept at heart. It was no longer acceptable to simply hand out a zero or fail a child just because that's what they earned. It should be more about mastery of content rather than a "I gotcha!" Don't get wrong, at some point if a student does not do the work then they don't do the work. No one every said that being an educators was going to be easy. Motivation, differentiation, relevancy, innovation, and finding a way to connect with each child should always be at the forefront of all our minds. But this all easier said than done. It takes a different mind on behalf of all school stakeholders to understand that mastery of content trumps a student receiving a letter grade.
So how can students, parents, teachers, and administrators come together to ensure things stay above ground? Over the years I have experienced or researched the following best practices......
So what do you say, pull those students out of the holes that we have collectively dug, fill them back in, and make a commitment to never bury another student during your time as an educator. We will all be better off in the long run.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Google Certified Trainer. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.
Sometimes I wish educators had a little more time to engage in true professional growth opportunities during the work day. All it would take is 100 minutes a week or 20 minutes each day to just close the classroom or office door and simply learn.
Weekend (Bonus Points!)
Obviously there are a plethora of other ways to stay sharp professionally. As this school year winds down and we gear up for the next, time should be put aside in the master schedule that allows for educators to grow on a daily basis. Modeling what it is to be a lead learner becomes contagious and will ultimately impact the success of all students.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Bammy Award Finalist. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.
PARCC is very controversial and has sparked many debates. As a parent, taxpayer, and educator I often struggle with the impact these assessments have on our students, my own children, fellow colleagues, and education as a whole. Here are twenty reasons for and against PARCC.......
Reason #1 (For) ~ Students need to know how they progress from year to year in subjects like math and literacy.
Reason #2 (Against) ~ Schools will be in testing mode for 40 days (20 in March and 20 in May)
Reason #3 (For) ~ Parents need to know how their children progress from year to year in subjects like math and literacy.
Reason #4 (Against) ~ The test results do not come back until late summer or early fall. This timing makes it incredibly difficult to help students when results come back six months later.
Reason #5 (For) ~ Teachers need to know their students' progress, or lack there of, in order to impact future instruction.
Reason #6 (Against) ~ The computers being used for testing will not be available for other students who are not testing for close to 40 days out of the school year.
Reason #7 (For) ~ Schools can use test results along with other pieces of evidence to help promote the success of students.
Reason #8 (Against) ~ Teachers and support staff will be pulled out of their regular classes to proctor the tests for up to 40 school days.
Reason #9 (For) ~ The shift from paper tests to online tests has forced districts to buy more technology and upgrade infrastructure.
Reason #10 (Against) ~ Critics of standardized testing claim that PARCC is technically not being used for diagnostic purposes.
Reason #11 (For) ~ Ultimately the PARCC will have results made available in a more timely fashion which will address student learning gaps.
Reason #12 (Against) ~ PARCC scores are being tied to teacher evaluations. Is this really fair given that it's one piece of the puzzle?
Reason #13 (For) ~ Students are working on their typing skills more at much younger age in preparation for the PARCC test. This will help them down the road when they enter the real world.
Reason #14 (Against) ~ STRESS. Students, Teachers, Administrators, and Parents are going through undo stress as it relates to testing. This can not be good for anyone's health.
Reason #15 (For) ~ Over time results will show which schools and teachers are ineffective.
Reason #16 (Against) ~ PARCC testing is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Reason #17 (For) ~ Standardized testing results help people understand how schools match up with others nationally and globally.
Reason #18 (Against) ~ Tech staff have no choice but to be solely focus on ensuring that the online tests are working at all times. What about other tech issues in non tested learning areas?
Reason #19 (For) ~ Students work hard in school preparing for the PARCC exam. This is their time to shine and show what they know.
Reason #20 (Against) ~ Finnish students rarely take standard tests and are tops in the world at educating their students. Why is it that the United States wants to compare themselves to every other top performing country except for Finland?
Not sure if I totally agree with the reasons listed above, but I am glad I got it off my chest. It will be interesting in the coming months and years to see how these new age standardized tests impact the educational world. Let's all try to keep an open mind and continue to do what's best for kids.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is an ASCD Emerging Leader, Bammy Award Finalist, ClassDojo Thought Leader and Google Certified Educator. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.