Whether you are one-to-one, have select computer lab time, or even limited access to technology, learning a few Google apps can be really helpful for amping up some lessons or even organizing your own teaching resources. Lucky for us, Google has its own training available for educators similar to the Apple training we blogged about last week! So what are the big differences and which one makes more sense for you to try to accomplish this summer?
The beauty of becoming a Google certified educator is that you can use Google resources no matter what type of device you are using. I just switched from a mac school to a chromebook school...I used Google apps before and I will continue to use them now! It is a great transferrable skill. Unlike the process for becoming an Apple certified teacher, becoming a Google certified educator does cost some money. Taking an Apple assessment simply required the click of a button. Taking a Google certification assessment requires you to register and pay a fee before an assessment is made available to you (within 24 hours).
Another big difference between the two distinguishments is the leveled certification Google offers. There is basically one track to becoming an Apple teacher...take the assessments and pass. The end. There is much less time commitment, especially since so much of Apple is built to be intuitive and the multiple choice assessments are easy to take and re-take. If your goal is to get that Google certified educator badge for your resume, you have to pass the level 1 or 2 certification assessment. While a lot of the Google apps are pretty intuitive, you are expected to know some specifics before attempting the $10 or $25 matching, multiple choice, and performance event based assessment. What I like about this is that there is a lot of work to becoming a Google certified educator, it really is an accomplishment to get through all of the work. I really like that they leveled their certifications to distinguish between the different skill levels needed to be a level 1 or level 2 Google certified educator.
Once you have become a level 2 educator, you do have the ability to become a trainer or innovator.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE DECIDING IF PUTTING THE TIME INTO GOOGLE TRAINING IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO DO:How often do you use or want to use Google apps?
If you never use Google apps and are just stepping into using them, there are a lot of training videos available on the Google educator site that have nothing to do with getting certification. It’s ok to dip your feet in and get a little bit of free training before diving into the full certification process! If you are ready to fully utilize Google and would like to integrate it into your curriculum next year, it might be a good time to dive right into the certification training!
How much time do you have to devote to pd this summer?
There is an ETA for each “chapter” of material so you have a good estimate of the time involved!
What prior knowledge do you have about Google apps?
If you have a lot of familiarity with Google apps, you may be able to take the certification quizzes without going through the whole training process. Google provides some sample exam questions so you know what to expect as well as an easy to read outline of what each chapter in the training entails. If you have no prior knowledge of Google apps, maybe you want to start at the free training/fundamental videos or level 1. Look through some of the material and it should be pretty easy to tell where you land!
I am in the process of level 2 training right now and I really like the layout of their training! I will give some updates as I learn and I’m excited to develop lessons where technology enriches the experience! Who else is up for some Google training this summer? Click here to get started!
A really good PD option for a teacher that works in 1:1 schools or district is being a teacher expert in your type of device or program. Apple and Google both have options for teachers to become certified in their products.
In this post we will go through the steps to becoming an Apple Teachers and what kind of resources you can use for professional development through Apple.
The first step is go to the Apple Education site. There you will find articles, tips, resources, and other teacher stories to learn new things about using Apple products in the classroom. On this page there is also a link to a resource called Apple Teacher. You will need an apple id to sign in.
Then once you are in there are more options of resources. The best place to start is the section on becoming an apple teacher. This is a professional development program where you go at your own pace and take quizzes over different apple programs. There is an iPad path or a Mac path. When you pass the quiz you get a badge for each section.
After you choose your path, you will see the different programs that you can work on. When you select one, it brings to your resources to help you learn the program if you need to brush up on it. When you are ready you can take the quiz over the program. If you get at least 4 out of 5 questions correct, you will receive your badge. They keep track of the badges you have earned on your profile page.
Once you have made it through all of the programs, you will receive an Apple Teacher icon that you can use on your credentials. They also make available more resources and additional badges you can earn for different programs.
Becoming an Apple Teacher is a good way to learn the programs for the system you are using. It is free and a way to take charge of your technology learning, especially since many districts do not offer system specific program training. Once you go through this process Apple has many more steps you can take to gain even more knowledge of Apple products and how to use them in the classroom.
Are you wanting to organize a professional development day for a group of teachers? Summer Institute or Edcamp may be for you!
What is the difference between an Edcamp and Summer Institute?
A summer institute is a more formal professional development opportunity with scheduled speakers, sessions, and presentations. The presenters can be your fellow teachers and staff or outside presenters that you bring in. A summer institute lasts usually around a week to two weeks. It is a great way to get professional development in a small time frame and learn from peers and experts in their fields.
An edcamp is typically described as “unconferences”. They are typically one day in length and are created by the participants when they show up that day. It is not meant to be a presentation but a discussion about topics that teachers are interested in. The Edcamp organization describes them as “free, organic, participant-driven, un-conferences that empower educators to maximize professional learning experiences and peer networks.” They have a bunch of resources on their site if you would like to find an edcamp near you or organize one. Below is a video that gives an overview of what an edcamp is.
Both options are great ways to learn new things over the summer that can give new life to your teaching practice or offer you an outlet to share your experience with other teachers. You get a chance to learn and network with other teachers which is always a good thing in our business.
PLANNING OUT YOUR SUMMER INSTITUTE
If you are in the Joplin area, no need to organize your own edcamp, sign up for the August 4th Edcamp at Joplin High School here!
The last day of school has just passed, the kids are gone, your room is cleaned, and your grades have all been finalized. This is when all teachers rejoice and all we can think of is sleeping. The last thing you are probably thinking about is PD.
We all know it is a myth that teachers have the summers off. Many of us teach summer school, attend conferences, work on curriculum, and some even work other jobs.
When it comes to how you spend your summer and how you recharge your batteries for the next school year, every teacher is different (Take our quiz to see what you may need to recharge!). It is definitely important for us to take time to recharge and take a defined break from teaching so that we can come back the next year ready and willing to teach.
Summer is a good time to reflect on the previous school year and work on becoming a better teacher for the next year. During the summer, we are free from the stress of having to plan lessons and manage the day-to-day of teaching and focus on making ourselves better.
We came across this article from Edutopia about developing a growth mindset in teachers. It is a good article that discusses the value of growth mindset in teachers and ways to incorporate those concepts into your teaching practice. We always talk about this being a good quality and skill for students, but it is equally important for teachers to be focused on growth and a willingness to learn and improve.
There are a lot of opportunities in the summer ranging from conferences, panels, college classes and webinars if you don’t want to travel.
Where do you find quality PD?
If you are looking for something more involved you can look for local districts to host Edcamps or summer institutes. Don't know what those are? Don't worry! Next week we will be walking you through the steps of planning and implementing an EdCamp or Summer Institute at your school building or district. EdCamps and Summer Institutes are a great way to open up communication about what is happening in other classrooms and learn some new ideas from your peers!
Don't have time to set up a Summer Institute or EdCamp? You can find professional development in a lot of different places now. There are small PD bites and articles all over Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Many colleges also will offer specialized courses and programs for K12 teachers. The Department of Education in your state will also have professional development that you can turn to as well. We have found that sometimes the best pd is finding a group of teachers that are willing to try new things share opportunities and stories with each other. This summer our blog will also focus on PD to help you recharge and reflect over the summer.
Can't wait for these dates? Here are some websites that offer online PD in the form of courses, conferences, and webinars.
ASCD - Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development - Webinar Archive
PBS Learning Media - Webinar Link
Do you know of some good places to find quality professional development? Please leave your ideas and comments below.
This summer our goal is to talk about professional development and how to grow our practice over the summer break. We will post resources and ideas we have about growing as teachers. To get us started try this quiz to see what you need over this summer!
SEMESTER BREAK IS ALMOST HERE!I know we are all excited for this semester to be ending and to have at least 10 days off. If you are anything like me, you are excited but also thinking about everything that you need to do to prepare for next semester.
One thing that I am trying to work on is balance between my teaching responsibilities and my family responsibilities. To this end I am really trying to work on ways to recharge over the break so I am ready to go when it is time to come back to school!
Here are the ways I am going to work on recharging and we would love to hear from all you on how you recharge over the semester break.
MAKE TIME FOR FAMILY/FRIENDS ONLYBasically I have a ban on work once the semester ends through the 26th of December. Those days are for family and friends. I spend my time baking, hanging out with my family, wrapping presents, and all of that stuff. My family always appreciates this, because they have my full attention and turn off my teacher brain for a little while which I think is really important. It helps clear my mind and allows me to come back to my work with a fresh start.
SPEND SOME TIME/ENERGY ON MYSELFThis is just as important as spending time with family and friends. I need some time for myself, so I don't feel like I am going to go crazy and snap at people. This can be as simple as reading a book for an hour at night or my favorite is a day at the spa. To me, if we don't do this we are really hurting ourselves, family, and students. We can't take of others if we don't take care of ourselves. We just need to find a little bit of time for ourselves, so we can give the best version of ourselves for everyone else.
TAKE SOME TIME FOR GROWTHI have lately really become aware or rediscovered how important it is for teachers to keep learning. When we do this, it keeps us growing which is important considering that is what we want from our students. I have also found that it just gets my creative process going and helps me think of new ways to do things and new ways to solve problems I have been having.
So during my break I am going to finish reading a book on differentiated instruction which is a huge focus for me right now. I have already started it and the ideas are already flowing!
TIME CHUNK YOUR WORKThis is strategy that we use with kids all of the time, but I found that it works for me as well. When I am on break, I find that I like to schedule time for work or a specific task and then I make myself take a break and do something completely not related. I will take time and play a game with my kids, watch a movie with my husband, or have lunch with a friend. This allows my mind to take a break and process anything that I was working on and then I can come back to it or start a new task. This also helps me keep some perspective and not get overwhelmed by all of the things that I want/have to get done.
Also this process helps me keep my work goals realistic for the break. It is a break after all and if schedule chunks of work then I am forced to prioritize my work and really see what needs to be done before I go back to school in January.
FOR THE OVER-ACHIEVERS OUT THERE...Get some work done BEFORE your break. For those intense planners who won't be able to really check out of work, try to get the first 2 weeks of the 2nd semester planned and materials ready BEFORE you leave work for break. If you know that the first two weeks are all set to go, you may be able to unplug better and really enjoy your break!
YOUR TURN! HOW DO YOU RECHARGE OVER BREAK?
This image popped up on our twitter account and it was one of those that made me stop and think.
I read it and then reread it. Would I be up for doing something like this?
I personally enjoy having teachers come into my classroom. I attribute this mainly to the amazing learning coaches that I had my first two years of teaching. They would pop into the classroom and observe me, take a few notes, and give me constructive feedback in between classes. As a new high school teacher, I loved getting the feedback during my morning classes because I could improve that lesson that very day for my afternoon classes! I could feel myself becoming a better teacher in the course of one day and it was so empowering!
Fast forward to a year later when I was taking classes to earn my Masters in Administration. For one of the courses I had to observe and fill out an evaluation form for two different teachers. My stomach dropped upon hearing about the assignment.
I felt a little bit better when everyone else in my class also shared the instant stress over having to ask a fellow teacher if we could observe and evaluate a lesson. Part of my personal issue was that I was new to teaching. Who was I to assess another teacher? It made me incredibly nervous and it got even worse when I actually had a teacher tell me they would rather I not watch their class after requesting to observe them.
Why can it feel so awkward to be watched? And is it worth pushing past the awkwardness to help each other grow to be better educators?
To that first question - It is easy to feel like your techniques are being judged. What if someone decides to come watch that class?? You know, the one with ALL of the kids who have to be told a million times what to do. That class is a rough part of your day already and now you’re inviting an audience?!?
And that, in my opinion, is the real issue here. If someone is just coming in and purely watching, that does absolutely nothing to help you and it is DEFINITELY awkward! It is completely one sided. The observer may have learned something or been given an idea to use in their class, but you are left feeling like they came, they saw, they judged, the end.
It is all about the conversation afterwards.
If you are the observer, ask yourself questions like:
If you are the observed teacher:
If we commit to that 2-5 minute conversation after class breaking down what happened and how it could be better, we all benefit from it! We can bounce ideas off of each other or even relate to having a challenging class together! We could learn a new behavior management technique from the person we are observing OR as a suggestion from the observer! There is so much to be gained from this conversation compared to so little to lose!
So to the second question, yes. If you and the observer can both commit to having a conversation about what went well and what could improve, it is 100% worth the initial awkwardness! After 3 or 4 of these types of observations, it may even start to feel pretty normal!
Give it a shot and let us know how it goes! Is it awkward? Is it worth it?
For teachers, conferences are both something to look forward to and something that we dread. They are necessary so that we can talk to parents about their students progress in class. They are difficult because those conversations can be hard, awkward, and sometimes confrontational. At the secondary level it is also a struggle to get parents to come to parent-teacher conferences at all. It can start to feel like a waste of time when there can be so much preparation involved.
Both of us (Danielle and Becca) have conferences this week and we assume that they are fast approaching for others as well. Maybe you are a first time teacher or maybe you just continue to be on the struggle bus with conferences. Either way, here are our thoughts and ideas about have successful parent teacher conferences.
To start, many schools are different in their opinion of how to structure conferences. Some schools want students to be there and have student-led conferences and some would say it should be just parents and teachers present for conferences. Is it open house style or do you need to schedule times with specific parents? What materials do you need to have ready for parents who do attend?
The best conferences I (Danielle) have ever participated in were the conferences my building did when I taught middle school. I taught at a true middle school where we had two 6th grade teams. Every teacher had a homeroom/advisory class. When it came to conferences we would schedule conferences with the parents of our homeroom class. The school scheduled one day after school for conferences and then on the next day the students did not have school and we were there until 4 but we were open all day for conferencing appointments. We scheduled an appointment with those 20-25 parents of students in our homeroom. Then my 6th grade team would meet and discuss which conferences we wanted to have as a team. If there was a student that really struggled or had specific behavior issues, we would all block out that time slot to have a team conference with that parent and student which was student-led.
In the weeks leading up to conferences, we would take time in homeroom to organize a portfolio of work from each class and the students would write reflections on their work that they would go over with their parents during the conference. I would discuss any issues that had been brought to my attention by the other teachers and answer any questions I could. If the parent wanted to talk to a specific teacher, then they could also schedule time for that during conferences as well but the main responsibility was for the homeroom teachers and meeting a different teacher was more of a special case. When we did it this way, I felt really supported since I had my team and a lot of preparation ahead of time. The responsibility was really on the students because they were leading the conference and they knew what issues they were going to have to talk about with their parents.
I (Becca) have not had experience with scheduling conferences, though that sounds like it may make it more worth the time! I try to have some candy available as well as a folder for each student containing student work and some student reflection. As parents arrive, I offer candy, ask them to sign in, and show them student work along with their grade. Most of the time the student is not with them. I explain how the grade is calculated, how their student behaves and performs in class, and how they could get better. I express any concerns I may have and check for questions. With any time left (many times the parent is trying to get around the building to see 6 other teachers and may be in a hurry), I make sure they understand our LMS so that they can have as much information about their student’s grades and attendance as possible!
The few times that the student is with them, I always include the student in the conversation. I have found that students are much more likely to say what they may need to be successful while sitting one on one with a parent present. While many would not pull you aside in class and tell you then need help being reminded what to do or would like more examples, they might in a conference setting! I have seen many students take some responsibility when I can tell both them and their parents what I think their strengths are. If their grades are not correlating well with their ability, they more often than not will take responsibility for their part. I would much rather have that conversation than just talk to a parent about what their student communicates to them versus what they communicate to me. Again, those are rare occasions for me, to have students present.
When it comes to conferences and if your district is considering any changes to your conference procedure, I would suggest the following:
If you don’t have control over your structure of conferences, try to find ways to work within your system.
BUILDING FUNDAMENTALS: BEING A GREAT MENTOR8/28/2017
Teaching is a hard profession to enter. No one can deny that. Teachers tend to have a burn out rate of 5 years. One of the best ways to help get past this is having a support system in your school. This usually starts with a mentor in the building. Most districts have a new teacher program that pairs new teachers with a mentor in their building. This mentor is the first line of defense and support for a new teacher and is an incredibility important relationship.
The quality of the mentors used in a school seem to have a direct relationship to new teachers staying in the profession and staying in that specific district.
What makes a good mentor? What qualities do mentors need to have to be what they need to be for new teachers?
Our profession is very important and we should do all we can to keep quality new teachers in the profession. Having a mentor with these qualities can go a long way to helping a new teacher grow and feel welcome in their school.
So you’re a new teacher! You may be brand new to the career or maybe you’re just new to the building. Either way, you will most likely be assigned a mentor to help you settle in and learn what you need to about the school and the culture.
My advice to you in getting the most out of your mentor is to ask questions! Ask them all! They are there to help you adjust and answer questions.
For brand new teachers specifically, you may have a million questions but these are the ones I suggest you ask early!
For all teachers new to a building, you’ll want the answer to these questions!
These questions are not all encompassing. You will continue to have questions. Keep asking them! Other than those specific questions we suggest you:
We hope you have a terrific first year teaching or first year at your new building! It can be a roller coaster but having a mentor and truly using them can make even the roughest of years a great experience in the end! Stay strong! Let us know how the years goes and any other advice you have about getting the most out of your mentor!
WHETHER YOU'RE FEELING LIKE THIS......
THE BIG DAY IS APPROACHING QUICKLY!
The first day of school! I don’t know about everyone else, but that day still makes me nervous every year. In the beginning it was straight up nerves but now has shifted to more nervous excitement. A new year! What will this year be like? What will the students be like? How will all of the changes I made to my curriculum work out? There is a lot of potential on that first day of school.
There is a lot of prep work that goes into the first day of school and the beginning of a new year. There is the room set-up, curriculum, school and department meetings, and so many other details that work up to this day. I know that the first day looks different at different grade levels and I will admit that I really only familiar with the secondary set-up. Regardless some of it is the same and most classes are trying to get the same types of tasks done:
For the new teacher, the first day of school can definitely be a day that is filled with excitement and nerves.
Here are some tips/things to know about the first day of school:
The real trick to having a successful first day is to have activities where the focus is on the students and not the teacher only talking at them all day about rules and procedures. It’s an easy trap to fall in, especially in the secondary classroom, spending every class reviewing the class syllabus, rules and procedures of the class. This is boring for the teacher and the students.
I have tried many different things for the first day to keep the focus on them and not me. There are so many different ways to approach this and it really depends on what you want to accomplish on the first day. Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and other social media outlets are filled with different ideas for what to do on the first day of school.
Here are few ideas that we like!
The first day of school is a chaotic, nerve wracking, and exciting day. Take time to enjoy it whether you are a first year teacher or veteran teacher. It is a day filled with promise, new beginnings, and new opportunities!
Above are just a few ideas on how to make the most out of your first day of school. If you have any other ideas, please share them below!