Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Visiting Classrooms

Today I spent the day traveling around our district, Decatur Public Schools, and visited teachers who are doing fantastic things with iPads with a teacher just starting her journey with iPads.  Check out her Blog here.
We are very lucky in our district.  Teacher are given a few visitation days that they are allowed to visit teachers in or out of district.   When the teacher approached me about wanting to visit a few classrooms where people were integrating iPads in a successful way I was super excited!  I felt like this was something that was really coaching, and then I got nervous.  So much to think and do before during and after the visit to make it successful.  When it was all done I think it went really well, so I thought I would share what I did.

Getting ready....

Before the visit I had to figure out where we would go!  I reached out to my network of coaches.  I asked for recommendation on teachers in their buildings who were successfully implementing the goal of the visitation, in this case implementing iPads.  I was lucky.  Teachers who were recommended I had seen in action.  Be sure to visit the room before going with the teacher to be sure that they are doing what you want the teacher to see.  One of the worst things to do would be to bring a teacher to see this model teacher and then its not what you want the teacher to see.
I also put together an observation form.  Basically a place for the teacher observing to gather their thoughts as the were observing.  This is also a good idea because you can guide your teachers thinking process with key questions.
Finally you need to be sure that the teacher is OK with the visit and reserve the times.  Be sure to communicate to the teacher that is visiting that they need to do all district requirements as well.  ie- booking a sub, filling our required forms.

The day of....

The day is here and everyone is excited to see awesome things!  If traveling to multiple schools I would suggest car pooling.  Time to reflect and share in the car is another way to squeeze every drop of the day.  Before you start the visit, take 10 minutes to prepare with the teacher.  Share the form you will use to guide the observation, explain what's going on in the room, and answer any questions they may have.
Visit the rooms and use the form.  I love using google forms because then everything is shared and there is no danger of loosing papers.  Encourage the teacher to ask students questions and encourage them to be an active observer by modeling that same behavior.  RESIST THE MULTITASKING URGE!

After the visit....

The visit is done and heads are spinning!  If at all possible, build time into the end of the day to meet with the teacher and decompress the visit.  If that is not possible try to meet as soon as possible.   Before you being talking with the teacher I would recommend giving them 10 minutes to sort out their thoughts.  Have them write, list, blog or whatever they need to do to begin to process the day.  While they are doing that, finalize and fine tune the questions that you want to ask the teacher to help them process their thinking  At the end of the 10 minutes start the discussion.  I had questions prepared so that we could be sure we made the most of this time.
Set another time to support the teacher with what they want to implement from the visit.  The visit is just the beginning, the follow through is super important so be sure to plan time for that.

So now you are ready to start visiting!  If you are a coach support your teacher in a visit.  If you are a teacher ask to go on a visit!  Sharing what you do well and working to develop yourself.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Connected Educators

Happy Connected Educator's Month!  If you didn't know before you know now, October is Connected Educator's Month.  Its time to reach out to educators, build your Professional Learning Network (PLN) to learn and share with others.  In honor of Connected Educator's Month I will share some of the ways that I connect with others.  Feel free to try one, all or any sampling of the ways.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love Twitter!  You can follow me @techiechrissie.  The reason that I love Twitter is that its a source of constant sharing, learning, and support, if you do it right.  A great place to start is by following some awesome people.  If you are looking to add a few to your PLN try @mattbgomez @Shyj @tbbrwn @msellis61 @craigyen @stumpteacher @justintarte .  These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of amazing educators on Twitter.  Start by reading tweets and links attached.  Favorite the ones your like.  When you are feeling brave, reply and comment!  If you are interested more about how to use Twitter to connect with educators read my blog here.

Google +
Google + is a community online through gmail accounts.   Mine is techiechrissie@gmail.com.  You can search for hashtags similarly to Twitter, join communities, and save contacts into circles.  I have used Google + to seek out resources and support on things I am working on.  I have also shared things that have worked for people who are looking for support as well.  On Google + you can type more than 140 characters which is helpful.  Search for communities and join them to stay connected.  To start out I would recommend searching a topic you are interested in, then add those people to your circles.  Some communities to get started with are teachers helping teachers  and teachers loving technology.

I use Feedly to manage my blogs that I read.  Its basically a place that holds blogs with an RSS feed and holds them kind of like a newspaper.  When i find a blogger on Twitter or Google + that I think is interesting i will copy their blog link and paste it into my Feedly.  Now the blog is saved and will keep all of the posts there.  Some grade blogs to start with right off the bat are http://www.freetech4teachers.com/  http://diaryofatechiechick.blogspot.com/   http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com/  http://mattbgomez.com/blog/

Go forth and get connected!!