Summer break is only 9 weeks away!

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Monday we returned, from spring break, to the last quarter of this school year! Usually the first day of a new term is busy with new class schedules, new student ID pictures to take and the excitement that the school year is almost over! What is not so exciting is when the network decides that it doesn’t want to work correctly! After 4 hours of troubleshooting with the tech. dept. and countless times telling teachers that they are working to resolve the issue,  I was wiped out when I got home! I had to just keep reminding myself that tomorrow is a new day and with fingers crossed, the network would decide to cooperate.

My unique position as Teacher-Librarian/Technology Integration Teacher allows me the opportunity to interact with most of my staff on a daily basis which helps to develop those critical relationships that are needed for school culture. However, there can be a downside. Staff tends to become more reliant on you, no matter the situation. This can be overwhelming! Reminding myself that I am a critical piece to the wheel is important and for that I am thankful that my staff feels comfortable enough to come to me with issues. i need to remember that I need to take some time for self-care to make it through this last term. Easy enough to say, but sometimes hard to do. It can be as simple as taking a 5 minute walk through the hallway, or doing some deep breathing. Also, just remembering that in the grand scheme of things it could always be worse! Cheers to 43 more days of school!

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Being a Teacher-Leader…..such a trusted role!

 

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The #iaedchat last night focused on Teacher-Leaders and their roles in our districts. The discussion was pretty amazing. Some of the questions that were posed:

What does Teacher Leadership look like in your district?
What are the foundational elements that must be in place to sustain teacher leadership
Share an example of how teacher leadership is impacting your district.
If you could change one thing within your teacher leadership system, please explain what it would be and why
We collect all kinds of data to show improvement. Most ties back to our assessment wall that drives decision making
How do the teacher leader and principal roles differ in your school?
What steps can you take tomorrow to increase/improve teacher leadership across your school and district?

The conversations obviously centered on the questions, but what was one resounding theme? Building relationships of trust and communication with other teachers. Just because we are Teacher-Leaders does not mean that we don’t have other teachers serving in a leadership capacity. We need to continue to encouraging those that might not think they are leadership material to grow in their instructional practice.

It is also vital that we as Teacher-Leaders continue to grow in our own instructional practice. By no means are we perfect – I am definitely far from it!  We, too, should always continue to seek out good instructional practices that help us to model it for our colleagues.

Being in a leadership role can sometimes be tough. There are lots of skeptics out there that think leadership should only come from administration. Fortunately we are in a profession where leadership skills are valued, especially now that we have the TLC program, and through that program have helped teachers reach their fullest potential in their classrooms. It could be as simple as trying a different strategy with a lesson to as far as “flipping their classroom” using technology and other resources. How do we do that? With this program not being evaluative we take the “perceived threat” away. Lots of colleague to colleague encouragement happens in its place.

Final thoughts? TLC has brought many teachers out of their ruts, that some didn’t even know they were in, and challenged them to become even better in their instructional practices. It has many, many benefits if people give it a chance!

Why Twitter is so important to your professional growth

Twitter is such a powerful tool when it comes to professional development. Many people choose to use Twitter for both personal and professional chatting and that is okay. However, some choose to use it only for their PLN. I choose to use it in this way. The vast amount of information that is shared on Twitter can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but the support from the Twitter community is amazing. I know that if I read something from someone I follow and can’t find it, my fellow tweeters will come to my rescue!

One of the greatest resources that I have found through my Twitter connections are specific group chats! There are many #hastag chat sessions out there, but a few that I am fond of are #iaedchat and #celebratemonday.  #iaedchat is held on Sunday evenings from 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (CST) and helps me to set the tone for my usually crazy busy week ahead. The chats that are held are usually very meaningful and very applicable to most of what I do during the week.

If you have never used Tweetdeck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/) give it a try. It allows you to follow many  of your #hashtags in one area. I like to have my tweetdeck open and running in the background so if I get a chance I can see what new ideas are out there that people are talking about. Many people start out on Twitter by lurking and just following people and that is okay. It gives you practice with the Twitter lingo and a chance to see how people interact.

Am I using Twitter to its fullest potential? No way! Am I trying to learn and participate more? Absolutely! Give it a try – you won’t be sorry!

 

 

Professional Relationship Building….

Constant learning, no matter your personal or professional life, is a must! I was fortunate to attend #edcampiowa this past Saturday. It was a great day being with like minded professionals who want to better their instructional practice. Many of the sessions were topics that are current issues involving good instruction, technology and most importantly building relationships with colleagues and students.
Relationship building is a key component. Starting those professional relationships with each other then expand to our students. They see staff working together and hopefully in turn they see how it can benefit them when working with their peers. This sometimes comes to a stalling point however, when we start to feel too comfortable and don’t allow or push ourselves to expand our comfort zones. I think we are all guilty of this. Sometimes we may have a personality conflict with a colleague, sometimes we are not even on the same page, so how do we resolve that? Many times it takes a lot of hard work and personal reflection on what YOU can do differently. If we expect or assume that it is the other person’s responsibility  to change we are in for a rude awakening.

Professional relationships have expanded to online venues as well. Twitter is an amazing tool that has allowed me to widen my professional relationships without meeting in person. Following other professionals through Twitter chats not only broaden my horizons professionally, but now gives me another resource to tap when I have a question or need help with something.

So, how can a person work on relationship building with their colleagues? I have found a few sites that give some tips.

9 Habits of people who build extraordinary relationships

10 Tips For Building Strong Professional Relationships

Frenzied rush to winter break!

The month of December can be the most enjoyable or the most miserable for some. It all depends on how you handle it! Are you easily stressed about minor things? Does the hustle and bustle of shopping, candy and cookie making along with all of your work responsibilities overwhelm you? If it does then you are not alone!

How do we stay sane? How do we handle the pressure? It is not easy. I am fortunate to have great friends who help me by reminding me to focus on  the overall picture and not sweat the small stuff. For me this is my toughest challenge. How do you cope with the craziness of the season?

Love it when you realize that you thought your blog posts posted and you find them in drafts!

Teaming is hard!

Sometimes being in a leadership position is tough! There are growing pains as you work on the process.

What is a Team?

From: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadtem.html

“A team is a group of people coming together to collaborate. The purpose of collaboration is to reach a shared goal or task for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. A group of people is not necessarily a team. A team is a group of people with a high degree of interdependence geared towards the achievement of a common goal or completion of a task, rather than just a group for administrative convenience. A group, by definition, is a number of individuals having some unifying relationship.

Team members are deeply committed to each other’s personal growth and success. That commitment usually transcends the team. A team outperforms a group and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members. That is, a team has a synergistic effect—one plus one equals a lot more than two.”

As I reflected on the definition above it allowed me to really think about the teams, to which I belong, and the role that I play within those teams. Am I doing everything that I can to hold others accountable? Are others doing the same for me? Am I deeply committed to the other team members personal growth? Am I committed to making the team process work? Am I willing to challenge others to think in a more positive way? Does it aid in their growth?

The second paragraph really resonated with me. Can we really call ourselves a team based on the explanation above or are we just a group performing tasks and checking boxes on our “to-do” list? Do our teams have the synergistic effect? If not, how do we get to that point? It might be lots of dialog varying opinions expressed, discussed and considered. It might be some

Building a true team takes time. It takes a lot of work on the part of the members that make up the team. It is the responsibility of those individuals to make sure they are truly committed to the team and the other members of the team. Team building is a tough process, but in the end the benefits are amazing!

A new blogger…..

Hello All! I am new to this whole blogging scene. I have read and followed a lot of blogs, but never thought I could blog myself. I didn’t really think I had much to say, let alone people who would want to read any of it! Thanks to gentle nudging from a few colleagues I decided that I would give it a try.

A bit about me. I am in my 25th year of teaching. I started out as a Special Education teacher and realized at year seven that if I didn’t work on a Master’s Degree if a different field of education I would not retire from education. I then started a three year journey to completing my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from the University of Northern Iowa in the spring of 2000. All of the teachers in our cohort were full-time teachers already in classrooms.  This degree was so new that the state had not even written comparable endorsements for our licensing! Soon enough it was decided that we could take an additional 20 hours to complete an endorsement in School Library Media Services. I have been a Teacher-Librarian at Davenport North High School for the past 15 years. This year I added a new half-time role of Technology Integration Lead Teacher, so I am half-time in the library and half-time working with teachers and students on technology integration.

My goal with starting this is to blog about the cool classroom things that are happening with technology integration as well as to share tips on various technologies. I have had a Twitter account for a few years, but really wasn’t on it much. With my role change I often tweet and join various chat groups. I have discovered a whole new world that I have excitedly shared with my staff! One of my six roles as a TILT (Technology Integration Lead Teacher) is to provide Professional Development to my staff. I have done this for many years as a Teacher-Librarian, but now it is much more concentrated effort and some of my release time allows me to experiment and work with new programs, apps and technology, so that I can then share with my teachers.

So welcome to my first blog and special thanks to those that gave me the nudge! I think this is going to be an exciting adventure!