Over the past five years, the company that I run with Scott Rocco and Billy Krakower, Evolving Educators LLC, have helped educators from around the world gain a working knowledge of what it takes to truly evolve as an educator and ultimately impact the success of students. During our various keynote speeches, featured presentations, and workshops we provide attendees with an opportunity to gain exposure to best practices that not only have helped us evolve in the physical and virtual worlds, but countless other educators from all walks of life. More importantly though, we help educators reflect on how their own evolution and plan a course of action for what is to come. The bottom line is that the "status quo" is simply not an option in today's educational world. Our work as teachers and administrators is serious business, and the only way we can help students reach their full potential is by continually enhancing our effectiveness.
The Evolve as an Educator Construct Organizer, shown above, can help educators dig deep into how they grow and impact as educators. Take some time in the near future to reflect on your evolution from past to present in both the physical and virtual worlds. Share this with others and have conversations about your findings pertaining to the various strands. There is no doubt that there will be some similarities and differences. Either way, you will gain access to new ideas and methods that will help transform your role as an educator.
Consider bringing the Evolving Educators into your school, district, or organization to support staff with their evolution as educators. We are currently offering one or half day workshops that take participants through the six evolution strands. The workshop will help participants take inventory of where they currently are as educators and more importantly where they want to be in the future. Reach out to us for more information and pricing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter has changed my professional career for the better. That's right. I said Twitter. Especially as a school and district leader. I actually wish Twitter was around during my teaching days. Every day I get to connect, reflect, and learn from educators on a global scale. A simple tweet of 280 characters or less, can motivate others more than you know. Whether you are sharing a resource, idea, or highlighting a learning experience that is taking place on campus, Twitter brings folks together in ways once thought unimaginable.
So how can educational leaders in PK-20 spaces hack Twitter to enhance their effectiveness? The first thing you can do is click on the image above and purchase 140 Twitter Tips for Educators. The second thing you can do is take a look at the list below which contains easy to understand examples of the various ways leaders can take their Twitter game to the next level.
There are so many things that educational leaders can do with Twitter. The list is above is just the tip of the iceberg. Now is a perfect opportunity to try Twitter. Lurk around for a few weeks, follow educators to see what they are tweeting about, and then when the time is right, compose your first tweet. Never discount the impact your tweet can have on an educator in another part of the world. Somewhere out there an educator is looking for a solution to a problem or needs to be inspired after a tough day at work. Twitter helps bring our educational community closer together and is a big reason why we live in one of the most exciting times in education.
Fortunately the world of education has many great people on Twitter. Unfortunately, there are a handful of PLN Posers that are misrepresenting who they are as an educators, taking unnecessary cheap shots at good people, and quite frankly making the vibrant educational world look bad. In our book 140 Twitter Tips for Educators, we speak to the many creative ways that educators can leverage the power of Twitter to enhance their effectiveness. On the flip side of this, there are some steps you can take so that a few bad apples don’t get in your way of enjoying the many fruits of Twitter and having a powerful PLN. Here a four ways to eliminate PLN Posers on Twitter...
1. Unfollow - Sends a message to the poser that you don’t appreciate the nonsense they are bringing to Twitter
2. Block - Completely drops the person out of your Twitter stream
3. Report - Alerts Twitter headquarters that you mean business and gives them insight on why a person should have Twitter privledges revoked
4. Mute - Drowns our a person from your Twitter feed in a nice sort of way
Simply open the Twitter app, click on settings, select your option, and the rest is history! You will have a whole new outlook on life and provide yourself with a spam free scroll of Twitter.
Don’t let a PLN Poser ruin your Twitter experience as an educator. This only impacts your effectiveness and ability to promote the success of students.
1. Jump up out of bed and go into the day with a mindset that you are going to do great things for students.
2. Take risks! When you take risks others others will follow suit. Risk-taking is contagious.
3. Have real conversations with colleagues and students. Get to know people and let them into your own world.
4. Rely on the expertise of your colleagues. Every educator has a unique skill set that can help enhance your effectiveness and address student needs.
5. Continually evolve as an educator. Look for opportunities to grow in both the physical and virtual worlds. Your students will be appreciative of these efforts.
6. Highlight student and staff achievements using social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
7. Leverage the power of Google tools to drive creation, communication, and creativity.
8. Attend students’ extracurricular events. They love the support that you show and will never forget.
9. Send notes or emails of encouragement to a student and his or her parents. Put a smile on someone's face and let them know how much they are appreciated.
10. Add courses like STEM or coding to your existing offerings. Students love learning experiences that are hands-on and fun.
11. Conduct a Spotlight Assembly that recognizes students for their efforts. Byram Intermediate School in New Jersey does a great job with running this monthly program.
12. Visit your colleague's classrooms and schools to learn about new strategies. Just because you share the same hallway or office space doesn't mean you know what they are doing from an educational standpoint.
13. Hold monthly student round table meetings. Students must have a voice in decisions that ultimately effect their educational experience. This can be done at grade, team, school or district level.
14. Check in with a handful of different students each week. Just saying hello and getting some informal feedback about your class, school, or district can go a long way.
15. Conduct yearly stakeholder surveys, using a tool like Google Forms, to see how your classroom, school, or district can improve learning environments.
16. Give every student a voice in your classroom by using Flipgrid. Great way for students to share their own insight and gain perspective on important topics from their classmates.
17. Find a way to integrate recess into student's daily schedules. Movement is good for students. Stuck inside? Try using GoNoodle.
18. Take your students outside for a lesson. It's always nice to have a change of scenery.
19. Leverage the power of technology to provide students with timely feed back on assignments. There should never be surprises once a grade is given.
20. Keep parents in the know of classroom, school, or district happenings. Maintain a weekly blog and continuously update your website. It's very important to blast this information out via text, email, and push notification.
This list is a living document and will expand on a frequent basis. How are you helping students succeed? Leave your insight in the comment section. Remember to dare every student to succeed. Keep fighting the good fight!
I first wrote this blog post way back in 2013. Fast forward five years to the present and this issue still persists. Those who spin a negative light, particularly on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, claim they are "challenging" others to think differently. What they are doing in fact is turning a positive conversation into a negative. Personally, I do not need to have my thinking challenged in a negative way by some knucklehead agitator. Don't get me wrong, I love to think differently about important issues in education. But I don't force feed my thoughts onto others with curt tweets.
On the flip side of this issue, I do appreciate people holding each other accountable. For instance, there a few educators out there that are phonies and people are calling them out on social media. This absolutely needs to happen because I feel, along with many others, that they are giving educators as a whole a bad name. If you are going to call someone out, make sure that you have the basis to do so.
Here is my post from 2013...
Recently I have been seeing a “negative tone” trend on Twitter towards myself and other like-minded educators. Not sure as to the reasons why, but it has raised an eye brow or two on my end. Over the past year and a half on Twitter I have been exposed to an amazing amount of positive and enlightening ideas related to best practices in the school setting. I have made thousands of connections and participated in so many positive conversations that it truly has changed me for the better. So many wonderful opportunities have arisen because of my connections on Twitter such as #Satchat, speaking engagements, blog posts, conversing with lead learners, and most importantly being exposed to innovative ideas that will impact my students.
So why the recent negative tone on Twitter and in the blogging world? Not sure. Maybe a few educators are fed up with state mandates, evaluation reform, budget cuts, standardized testing, outside interests, or what some perceive as a negative outlook on the teaching profession. The fact of the matter is this, we all need to continue to be the positive force behind effective change and providing students with a innovative learning environment. The only way this happens is if we continue to share great ideas and resources with the hope of promoting the success of all students. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to challenge each other’s thinking from time to time. But to do so in a way that only incorporates negativity and a lack of solutions doesn’t help anyone.
In closing, the only way we can combat negativity is with positive solutions. Somebody once told me in a similar situation to just “kill them with kindness.” Educators on Twitter often share ideas or have conversations with best intentions in mind. And yes we realize that sometimes these initiatives can not be implemented whole heartedly due to the current climate that we are apart of. The fact remains is that we need to keep on sharing and moving the conversation forward as it relates to what’s best for kids. Let’s leave the negativity behind and think before we press “tweet.” For me, Twitter has been a “breath of fresh air” and has allowed all educators to thrive in so many influential ways. Let’s keep fighting the good fight and keep the “negative nelly” personas locked away in a box.
I can remember in the early to mid 90's when I took my first public speaking course as a middle school student. Looking back it was probably one of the best things I ever did in terms of building my confidence and learning how to get my points across to an audience. It was nerve-racking and challenging to say the least, but made me a more well rounded person. Learning how to engage groups of people helped me down the road when I ultimately landed my first job as a social studies and computer education teacher. Fast forward to the present, I use my past public speaking experiences as a social studies teacher, coach, and administrator to help me with presenting on the national stage about my passions in the field of education.
Pubic speaking in the year 2018, goes well beyond engaging audiences in the physical world. Now, there is an expectation for children and adults to convey their thoughts virtually. Whether it's an online meeting, webinar, Skype, YouTube Live, Periscope, Facebook Live, screen cast, or Flipgrid, people must possess a diversified skill set to get their points across through a device.
Here are 12 points of emphasis as it relates to public speaking in the digital world...
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.
Picture it, you are teaching a class just like any other typical day and then all of the sudden your cell phone dings with a notification. At the same time your desktop computer pushes out a blaring alert. It's a Share911 message saying that all students and staff must evacuate the building immediately. Your class quietly leaves the classroom in an orderly fashion and follows the correct evacuation procedures. As other students and staff leave the building, the command center, located in the main office and led by the building principal, is monitoring the Share911 alert that she sent out just a few minutes ago to see, in real-time, the various classes that are checking in from their smartphones. Based off of past drills that were conducted, teachers know that once they arrive at the appropriate evacuation site, they must check-in on the Share911 app. This gives the command center an opportunity to see who is accounted for and missing. Eventually, the building principal feels that enough time has lapsed to call off the drill. Using the Share911 app, she is able to send out an "all clear" alert to the teachers that the evacuation situation is over. Students and staff then return to their classrooms in an orderly fashion. The building principal then runs a report with a few clicks of the mouse or taps of the screen to see if everyone was able to check-in and that students were accounted for.
The situation described above would look much different ten years ago. An announcement would need to be made over the PA system, color coded cards displayed, additional announcements, and post drill collection forms filled out and collected. Share911 gives users the ability to quickly communicate with others during a crisis or drill on the internet enabled device. It could be utilized inside or outside the classroom setting. Many schools and districts now use Share911 to communicate during drill or actual emergency. It's part of school safety manuals and is an expectation that everyone uses the web application each time a situation arises.
So what do you say? Consider moving your school or district emergency management plan to the digital world. Meet people where they are, which is on their devices, to effectively to ensure their safety and provide real-time information.
Want to learn more about Share911? Click here to fill out a very brief contact information form and someone will get back to you as soon as humanly possible.
Disclosure: Share911 will potentially compensate me for helping to spread the word about their awesome product. I only recommend products on my blog that I truly believe in and would use myself.
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.