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.
The Twitter Feed Never Lies
That's right. You heard it here first. The Twitter feed never lies. Or at the very least it provides users the ability to access classroom, school, or district content that would otherwise be hard to obtain if observing from afar. Teachers, principals, and superintendents from around the world are taking 140 characters to get the message out and move the educational conversation forward.
Throughout the 2016-2017 school year Black River Middle School, by way of the @BlackRiverMS Twitter handle, was able to give stakeholder's an accurate depiction of learning experiences that take place across all grade levels and subject areas. Mrs. Moore's 4th grade classroom by way of the @MrsMooreFRSD Twitter handle was able to expand my knowledge as a parent of my son's daily learning experiences. The Falls Creek School District in Wisconsin leveraged the power of their hashtag #gocrickets and Twitter handle @fccrickets to promote all the great things that are taking place on a daily basis.
There are so many great examples of how educators use Twitter to push the positive. Tweets highlight the great work of students, the innovative methods that teachers implement, and the exciting learning environment that leaders support. All it takes is a smartphone, the Twitter app, and a commitment to tell your story through social media.
A great way to become acclimated to all the things that Twitter has to offer is by purchasing the book 140 Twitter Tips for Educators. It provides novice, intermediate, and expert users ideas and insight on how to make this invaluable tool work for you. At the end of the day, if you do not tell your classroom, school, or district story, someone else will and it could be wrong.
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.
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
Over the past year Google Classroom has taken the educational world by storm. Teachers and students are now able to thrive in a paperless world. School leaders must support this new way of life while respecting the transition from traditional methods. So how can a school leader leverage the power of Google Classroom to promote student and staff success? Let's take a look...
1. Flip the faculty meeting and create a Google Classroom for staff members. Instead of wasting teacher's time with boring agenda items, post this information on a Google Doc or Google Slide in Classroom. Then actually utilize this additional time for meaningful professional growth opportunities.
2. Promote sharing of best practices with a Blog of the Week PLC. Send out a Google Form that provides staff members with an opportunity to nominate their favorite blog post. Once the blog posts are submitted, send out an another Google Form for nomination purposes. Once the blog post with the most votes is selected, begin a conversation utilizing the new question feature in Classroom.
3. Move your school forward with a Student Roundtable. Once a month a select group of students meets with administration to be informed of school happenings, but more importantly share insight on how to make the learning environment better. The Google Doc agenda leading up to the meeting can be shared out to students and crowd sourced in Classroom. Additional conversations and resources can be posted within the Student Roundtable Google Classroom throughout the school year.
4. Create a Google Classroom for best practices in technology integration. In particular, Google Apps for Education. Each week have staff members share different ways they are utilizing different apps and extensions to promote student success. Often teachers who are in the same hallway, let alone the same building, have no idea what great things are going on in their colleagues' classroom. This sort of sharing will be a game-changer.
As you can see their are countless ways that administrators can utilize Google Classroom. It's a great way to mode technology integrationl for students and staff. Make it a goal this schoo lyear, if you are working in a GAFE school district, to find one consistent way to utilize Google Classroom. It will make a world of difference.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities and the newly released 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 is a Google Certified Trainer and speaks nationally about tech integration. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.
Burying Our Students
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.
100 Minutes a Week
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.