Monday, March 21, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset Week 8: Chapter 12

This chapter should have really gotten you thinking about your own personal learning. As teachers, do you see any of the "8 things to look for in today's classroom" in your personal/professional learning? Those of you who are school or district leaders, how can you implement some of these elements in the professional development opportunities you're offering to your teachers/learners? The last element discussed was Connected Learning and George reiterated the importance of using Twitter and hashtags to make connections. Don't forget to connect with thousands of Indiana educators (and even many outside of the state) by using the hashtag #INeLearn.

Next week we will read and discuss chapters 13 and 14 and finish the book. I know you will all be on spring break at some point in the next 3 weeks. Don't forget that if you want 12 PGPs and to be eligible to win the professional development grant, you have to comment in all 10 weeks' discussions by midnight Eastern Friday, April 8th.

61 comments:

  1. Of the 8 things mentioned in this chapter the one that I found to be the most powerful was choice. In my own experience when I have had choice over what I want to learn about in my PD the more I have gotten out of it. Too often time is wasted sharing information that teachers are not passionate about, which doesn't help them grow as educators. The challenge is to change the mindsets of administrators so they will begin to let teachers take more control of their own professional learning. Making that shift will see teachers grow as educators at a much higher rate then making them send time learning about areas they have zero passion for.

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    1. This idea of choice has been tried in our district. During our PD we try to offer different choices to help teachers develop skills for themselves. I am also excited about implementing the concept from a previous chapter of having teachers develop teams within our own school to work together with strengths they have.

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    2. I agree with you about the power of choice. I have sat in many meetings and professional development days where I got nothing from it. There is no worse feeling then feeling like you wasted your time. There is no "one size fits all" model for PD. Teachers are told to differentiate our instruction based on our various students. This should be offered for educators too.

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  2. I agree that given a CHOICE in our Professional Development has made a difference. (It also makes me think of fhow desperate the students are for choice.) Many schools are already doing this, but our district has moved toward the professional learning communities where we are given a choice on a category that needs to be strengthened. For example, successful strategies to use in the classroom that maximizes students understanding about critical standards. Not only were we given a choice to learn about a specific strategy of 4 offered, but we were then offered time for REFLECTION to discover how that fits into our content area or teaching style. We met along the way to share what we were discovering, trying, reflecting on, and revamping. When the administrators got the sense that we were ready we were given what could be called by George, INNOVATION WEEK to create a "FedEx" presentation to share with all the other PLCs in what the purpose of our chosen strategy was, what it looked like in our rooms, along with some data to show its successes. The time to choose, reflect, and innovate has made a big difference rather than telling us to do it and never returning to visit it again.

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  3. During my district's last e-learning day, my principal devoted the afternoon to teachers sharing new ideas and experiences that they had encountered this school year. Some shared what they were implementing in their classes, some shared being connected via Matt Miller's #ditchbook conference and ongoing blogs and other professional development resources. After a few years of 1: 1 trainings from 'experts' it was refreshing just to hear my own colleagues share. It was like a mini EdCamp that evolved from several colleagues coming forward with what was happening naturally in our educational lives. My principal planted a few people on the agenda and from there the conversations multiplied. We have our last scheduled e-learning day tomorrow, and I am truly looking forward to another time to hear from our own.

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  4. I see some of the "8 things to look for" in my classroom and in my personal learning, but probably not enough of those things. I have observed classrooms in which the teacher lectures for the entire hour, every day, day after day. These classes are boring, and I have often seen students napping during these classes. The good that I take away from observing this approach to teaching is that I am very aware of the student's need to have the first two of the 8- voice and choice. Sometimes, learning does not always mean realizing what a teacher should do; sometimes, we can learn what not to do.

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  5. There has been a big shift in classroom style, management and organization over the past 20 years. I believe that we are much closer to a learner focused classroom than we were 20 years ago. I see teachers utilizing connected classrooms, letting students make choices and using self assessments. The part that strikes a cord with me is the time for reflection piece of the puzzle. We rarely have extra time in the schools. To add this component we will need to dedicate specific times for reflection.

    I agree with the previous comments that choice is a powerful choice for students. This resonated with me a couple of weeks ago. 20 6th grade students at my child's school competed in the Indiana National History Day competition. They could create anything they wanted but it had to be based on the history theme. I was completely blown away by their presentations and creations. There were student created plays, lengthy dissertation style papers, exhibit boards and interactive web presentations. By giving these students choices and allowing them to become the voices of history, we saw amazing results.

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  6. Of the 8 things to look for I think the one that hit me the most is "Time for Reflection". The line "I reflect, therefore I learn" said it all for me. I feel as educators we should always be reflecting on what we have done and how we can do it better. If we are still doing the same things we did even 5 years ago, the same way we did them, we are doing a disservice to our students. The concepts/skills may be the same, but the way we are delivering them must evolve over time. Doing things the same way we have done them because that is the way we have always done it will lead to a stale environment where learning is difficult to see. "School should not be the place where answers to to die but questions come to life." I feel there is so much power in that one statement!

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    1. Reflection is powerful, for us and for our students. And sadly, we don't always give students that time to reflect. It's always ON TO BIGGER AND BETTER TOPICS!! I am striving to provide this time for my kids this year. Progress, not perfection.

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    2. I have been thinking about students reflecting about their learning recently. This is a valuable skill for young adults to practice and we should allow for this in our classrooms. I am going to be doing this more often when students complete projects and labs.

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    3. Reflection is so important to both teachers and students. I remember in college how much I hated having to reflect on the lessons that I was teaching, but now (as a teacher) I recognize the importance of doing so. I try to provide the opportunity for my students to reflect on their work in the classroom. They do not always like doing it, but it is wonderful for me to hear them say, "Oh! Now I know what I should have done!" It is much more beneficial for them to notice/fix their own mistakes--it has more of an effect on their learning process. I also try to talk to the students about my own mistakes that I make in the classroom. It is important for them to know that we recognize our own flaws.

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    4. I have never been a fan of reflecting or journaling, but I am starting to see that really I do it, I just don't do it on paper.

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  7. Reading this chapter made me think how my school does professional development. When I first started teaching we use to have speakers come in on half days and we'd have to listen to things we had no interest in. Fast forward about 20 years and now we are able to choose the professional development we are interested in and learn things that will help us. We have PLC meetings where we share ideas, discuss new technologies, and other things we feel are important to discuss. It appears like choice is an important tool in educators continuing with their learning.

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  8. REFLECTION--Last year I kept a journal about what was going on in my classes. I wrote weekly and reflected upon what I tried, what worked, what didn’t work, and why. I wrote my frustrations and my triumphs. It was fun to look back and see where the changes happened. I’m glad I wrote down lists of ideas that I can look at later. This year I started out trying to do another journal but have been so busy with so many changes using chromebooks in classes and online textbooks for the first time that I haven’t written much. I want to get back to my weekly reflections. I think time to reflect is very important, and for me, having something where I can go back and see how I’ve changed and learned is beneficial. It helps me to realize how far I’ve come, and also helps me to remember things I would like to try.
    I have also tried to use Twitter and other social media to gain new ideas and find out what other people are doing. What is hard for me is putting myself out there. For example, participating in this blog is hard for me because someone might read what I say!

    “How many of us purposefully and explicitly show our students what it means to struggle with learning, overcome obstacles, and emerge on the other side more skilled and more knowledgeable than we were before? You already know the answer: nearly zero.”
    What? Nearly zero? Really? I try to model this with my Spanish students often, especially in upper level where I demonstrate how I figured something out, how I tackled the problem, how I searched for answers, what I did to move forward. I am never afraid of telling them I don’t know, but I tell them how I am going to find out. I have always thought that it’s important to see how someone like them, not a native speaker, has figured out how to learn something in Spanish. I tell stories about what I did, too. Some of them are funny ones about mistakes I’ve made and frustrations I’ve had. I think this gives students a boost to realize they can figure it out too.

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    1. I had no idea you were keeping a weekly journal. I love this idea! Did you have an evening set aside to write?

      Please keep putting yourself out there on Twitter. If you're willing to show kids your mistakes, then you're already braver than most!

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    2. Keeping a journal is a great idea.

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  9. Reading this part I found that choice and having a choice was very important. I like to think that I do give my students a choice in how they learn. I do wish that the state would give teachers more of a choice. Students I have found do better when they have a choice and I feel educators would also do better with a choice.

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    1. I can't imagine having the state tell me how to do my job. I am so blessed to teach at an independent school... we get no government funding, but we don't have to do what they say.

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  10. Choice and voice were the two things that I can honestly say that I use in the classroom. However, it is very limited int he way that I use it. Students get to choose when and how they complete their work. However, the do not choose what they will learn. I tried asking once, " What would you like to know more about?" and then giving them the opportunity to research. It did not go as well as I had planned. I couldn't turn 3rd graders loose on the internet and we were limited with books from the library. I would love to be able to more of this type of thing, but don't know how.

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    1. There is a search engine called Kiddle. It is a kid friendly website by Google that filters and screens websites that are more kid friendly. Our school also uses World Book Online. It is a great way to introduce younger students to research. I will have them find something interesting and share with the class.

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    2. Kris Taylor--Thank you so much for the tip about Kiddle. I just tried it and loved the results!!

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  11. I like the section called Opportunities for Innovations. Teachers need the ability to learn and practice new ways to educate their students. And students need opportunities for innovations to improve and expand their world. Technology with constant changes keeps the education field on their toes. The difficult part of for the teacher is deciding what is right for her students and what the teacher feels comfortable with. Teachers need the time to learn, share, and instruct with technology. But finding the time to do the learning and sharing is the most difficult of all.

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    1. I agree with your comment that teachers need time learn, share, and instruct with technology. It seems like a lot is being expected of teachers with the changes in standards and the addition of more and more technology. Teachers aren't given the time needed to be able to adapt and keep up with these changes.

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  12. I loved the quote, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” I really believe that is true. I think autonomy is something that we cry out for from our earliest days. We want to decide when to eat, when to sleep, what to eat, what to wear. We shouldn't then be surprised when our students want to decide some things for themselves as well. I must find ways to allow my students to make more choices. Along with that I have to get better at guiding their choices. We can't all be doing whatever we want, but we could perhaps all have some choice in how we're going to attack a certain topic.

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  13. Right now I am not very good at bringing any of the eight things into my classroom. I'm trying to keep my head above water and get through the standards, and get my students prepared for the ISTEP Biology Test (that we still don't have dates for!) and...and...and learning to adapt to the classroom again after a couple of decades away from it. I sometimes give a few students "voice," but because some of them abuse it, it's tough to allow them much time to collaborate and learn from others. I have given a little bit of "choice" when I assigned a project and tried very hard not to tell them exactly what and exactly how to do it. I liked what I got in the end. One young lady wrote a song, one group of students recorded a video of them singing a song they wrote, one young man used Emaze instead of Google Slides for his presentation. I also got two very nice poster style presentations and a bunch of good Slides presentations. (I also got a few less than stellar talks, but what are you going to do?) I really would like to focus on helping them learn to be Problem Solvers and I think one of the best ways to do that is to "bring experts into my classroom" to help them learn from folks other than myself. Still working on ways to do those things.

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    1. Your post really caught my attention, as after reading this chapter the many teacher comments I have heard about being so pushed by standards that there isn't much room for other things rang in head. I agree there is a lot dictated by the standards but it is all in the presentation of the material --- by the teacher, the students and allowing choice, and continually improving by the use of reflection by all parties! I hate hearing my own kids feel as though they have no choice in the classroom and feel "bored". It kills me because I know it can be different- not all the time, but enough to keep them engaged.
      I have been struggling with the reflection piece , especially when we are running low on time. After reading this book, I am allowing myself to take one change and improvement at a time.... Hoping to continually learn and grow as a teacher.

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  14. I felt pushed by the first comment in the chapter, "The only source of knowledge is experience." simply because so many of our students don't have experiences that can help them build curiosity or even choice. As teachers we look for experiences that can help us build our professional knowledge, yet we still have students sit and get information. If we truly want our students to gain knowledge, then they must have experiences. Teachers have to let go of the ego of being the all knowing adult and allow for students to experience interesting items. As a teacher you aren't sure what students will experience when going on a field trip or a virtual trip, but the light bulb could be turned on in an unknown way. If we, as teachers, sit and expect for our schools to change then we are sorely mistaken. For instance, Couros talks about students not waiting to learn how to make a youtube video, so why are teachers waiting for PD to be provided on items that will help advance our student experiences. The words of this chapter should be the beginning of every year conversation. What experiences will we help, not allow, students to have throughout the year. We need to begin to look to our students for learning experiences and provide that choice that, we as adults, strive for. In my opinion this book should be a book study by many different schools if not all educators around the country to get conversations started. Conversations that will lead to real change, not just talk, but action.

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  15. I would like to offer teachers in my school professional development opportunities that implement voice, choice, and time for reflection. I would like to start by offering a time once a quarter where teachers could share something they are learning or trying with students which would give them voice. I would like teachers to have a choice in which of those ideas or another idea that was sparked by the presentations to try themselves. Or even something they’ve been interested in working on for their own professional growth since I agree in what “Simon Sinek states, ‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.’” Then, it would be great for those teachers to come back together to share their reflections on their learning process and what they learned. We could learn from each other in the ways they went about creating their own professional development.

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  16. I have had to endure a lot of professional development sessions that were good but just did not pertain to me. While I did my best to see if I could implement the material, often I felt it was time that could have been spent better. Some of the PD seemed to be fluff, entertaining but not relevant at all; it always seems that the most relevant PD sessions were the ones I chose to go to instead of ones the school corporation chose for me. At my high school now, I find it interesting that the teachers are encouraged to come forward and share things they have learned at a PD session. We are encouraged to be the ones to share our learned knowledge. I think by allowing us to do this, it also empowers us to really want to "get" something out of the professional development conferences or workshops we attend.

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  17. The beginning of this chapter was too funny! Staff meetings and PD can sometimes be pretty boring. I swear sometimes "they" say , oh we need to have a meeting let's come up with something for these teachers to do! The best PD is just talking with other educators and hearing about what they are doing in their classrooms. I am social person and I believe that learning in social. I do tend to forget this in my classroom sometimes I hear myself saying , "okay now everyone be quiet" when really I should be letting them talk. I think sometimes it's easy to forget that children are just little people and they have the same needs that we do. I always try to think would I want to be in my classroom, would I want my own child to be in my classroom? Those are not always easy to answer, but it does make me stop and consider what's best for my students and the learning process.

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    1. As I read your comment I agreed with everything you had to say! The beginning of the chapter gave me a little laugh starting off with the talk about the professional development meetings. We sometimes joke we're having meetings to discuss the meetings. But, when in those meetings I do find myself asking someone next to me a question or maybe making a small comment. I get upset when my students do that though, it happened just today during class! Great reminder that they're people too and as long as they can continue to focus on the task or work at whatever it is their doing I don't need complete silence and a class of robots (unless it's a test of course).

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  18. Choice and reflection would be the two main areas of professional development for me. The quote from Simon Sinek sums up my feeling. It is stressful to learn something you are told to learn. When I think of professional development I want to learn about something relevant to my classroom, and my personality/abilities. Spending time learning about a tool I would not use in my classroom would simple take time away from something I would consider to be more important, thus stressing me out. I want to be able to collaborate yet pick and choose what I believe would be best for my classroom.

    Reflection is one I feel is often overlooked. I'm sure most educators, like myself, don't take the time to sit and ask ourselves the important questions right away. We wait and ask them over the summer when we have more time, but have forgotten much of the situations. I think I will remember what went well and what I wanted to change, but don't remember leaving activities only partially improved. Or I think I will go over my notes from a conference when I get home, but never do. By not taking the time to reflect I missed out on really taking full advantage of the learning opportunity, and implementing it in my classroom.

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    1. Barb, I couldn't agree more about being TOLD what to learn, or wasting time learning a tool that I know I won't use in my classroom. Time is our most precious resource. I'd love to give my students more choices and I know I need to turn more over to them.

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  19. I agree with much of what I've read throughout the comments already- time for reflection is important. I also believe that choice makes a huge difference.

    I also appreciated the problem solvers/finders discussion. In many ways, this is what drives vision. In the future, I'd like our professional development to be driven by the strengths/weaknesses our teachers see in our tech integration program, and offer choice from there. Finding those problems and offering solutions to them while utilizing the strengths of teacher leaders is a way to move away from the "broken pd" model.

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  20. Reading through this blog and posts on other sites, it is apparent that many educators agree with the need and benefits of empowering students with more voice and choice, but different people express various levels of success or failure in their attempts to implement them. That, of course, is just part of the process. We have to expect some failure, reflect and try it differently next time. That failure doesn't mean that empowering students is the wrong idea, it just means we need to potentially rework that way it was done. That is one of the reasons that connections to other educators is so important. We can build off of others' successes and contribute our own. That requires honesty (what didn't work so well) trust and risk. It requires administrative and community support. It also means we have to keep bringing conversations back to the question of "How is this improving student knowledge and skills?" We are convinced that people have curiosity and crave autonomy, but we also know that some guidance and structure can make learning more fruitful. Even as an adult learning (with likely more discipline than a young learner), I have to sometimes be guided and encouraged to explore certain topics or tools. How do I identify and fill my learning gaps? How can I help students do that too?

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  21. Time for reflection... that's a big one. The majority of my conversations with teachers revolve around having the time to incorporate new ideas and collaborate. So I think this better falls under the "opportunities for innovation." I want to be able to provide teachers as much time as they need to do what they can do. I have heard the analogy of comparing the administrator to the quarterback of the football team, orchestrating and making the tough calls. However, I would rather liken the role to the offensive line. Our teachers are our quarterbacks and it is our job to keep all the garbage out of the pocket so they can nestle in and make some really amazing things happen!

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  22. I definitely see reflection in my learning as an educator. I am noting daily what lessons, content, ideas worked with my students and what did not. Additionally, after major projects, I ask students what they liked about it, what they would change, and overall how they thought it went. I use their feedback to revamp future projects for them and for my future students. I find hearing my students' thought helps me with my own reflection on my efforts since properly educating them with something meaningful is my end goal. Since I do a lot of self-reflections, I am thinking of starting a blog or some sorts next year to keep track of my thoughts and to share the journey of reflection with others who might be interested. I am also thinking about having my students blog as well about what they are earning in history, how they are doing in history, and connections between historical topics we cover and modern day. I still have to work through the kinks, but I think making students responsible for their own reflections would be good, so that they could continue that on with life after high school.

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  23. I really enjoyed reading this chapter. I feel like I can relate too many of the different 8 things to look for in today's classroom. I do have to say my favorite quote from this chapter was "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion." I just really believe this is so true, especially in teaching. We often work really hard and my true reward is what takes place in my classroom. I also think that if I didn't love teaching the hard work I put in would feel more like stress and not a passion. I also believe that reflection and choice are super important things that you should see in today's classroom. I see how happy my kids are after I give them a choice no matter how small it may be. I think reflecting on my day is something I do to better myself and my classroom.

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  24. Like Lauren, my favorite quote from this chapter is "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion". The teachers I know have a passion for their job and committed to their students. For me its the paperwork and the IEPs that give me stress. Recently, I have had the opportunity to read two books, and simultaneously said, "Thankfulness". Now when I dread working on an IEP, I am trying to remember to be thankful, putting the student first. I confess, I am horrible at reflection. It isn't that I don't reflect, I just don't document it. This book is giving me the kick I need to begin reflecting. Me becoming a better teacher, is what is best for our students.

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  25. I see many "Opportunities for Innovation" in my personal/professional learning. There are so many ways to turn the stress of learning into a passion for learning. Just today a 4th grade student showed me a horse she made from rubber bands. I asked her how she learned to make it and she said YouTube.

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  26. As a media specialist, I sometimes feel these discussions are somewhat out of my element or not as applicable since I am not in front of a classroom full of students everyday teaching. However, this chapter, the “8 Things to look for in today’s classroom” really made me stop and think about the book clubs I facilitate and how these things can apply to everyday reading, be it for education or recreation, reading is a great way to be innovative. 1) I think about the way kids “voice” their opinion about the books we read or the things they say when they are trying to convince another student to read the book. 2) In our High School book club the students select which books they want to read based on the annual Rosewater nominee list so they have approximately 20-25 choices from a variety of genres. 3) Students always share during our club time what they are reading and what they like or don’t like about the story. 4) This one is the most fun! Every year we go a field trip based on one (or more) of the books we have read. One year we spent the night in the West Baden Hotel after reading So Cold the River by Michael Koryta, we went caving after reading Over and Under by Todd Tucker, and spent a weekend in Chicago after reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. These were all great ways to bring the books to life. 5) The students’ book discussions sometimes get heated (and very opinionated) with individual readers sharing their interpretations of the story. (I think students were debating for the whole school year about the realistic vs. metaphorical ending of Life of Pi by Yann Martel). 6) There isn’t a lot of problem solving that goes along with what we read but books often spark an interest in certain topics. For instance, after reading, Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, I had students check out every book the library had that was written by a holocaust survivor and we stayed after school to watch the movie, Schindler’s list. 7) Most students will engage in self-assessment when reading. An example is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. In the story, a teenage girl commits suicide after being bullied, she left cassette tapes for all the people she felt had wronged her. No one had done anything that seemed significant to them, but when the actions of all these people added up, it was more than the girl could handle. The scenario really made the kids stop and think about how every little word or action can affect someone else’s life. And finally 8) we have had the opportunity to meet several authors and discuss their books with them personally. The connection the kids make after meeting the person responsible for this story that they love is immeasurable. Sorry for the long post, what was that last week about less is more???? :-)

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    1. That field trip idea sounds awesome. This is the first year we have chosen from the Eliot Rosewater nominee list. In the past, I would just ask them, but someone had always read the book that way. Great ideas.

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  27. This chapter got me thinking about the importance of listening and learning from my students, who when given the opportunity, are problem finders/solvers. What better way to grow as an educator than listening to student feedback. I tried a "self-discovery" lesson on graphing quadratic this week and it went okay. My favorite part of the lesson was when I got to learn. A student asked if they could use calculators for the table. I was thinking graphing calculators, which would do more for them then I wanted, so I said no. Another student, hearing our conversation, brought one of our "classroom calculators" to me and showed me how to make a table with a scientific calculator. Who knew??? It made my day for two reasons. One, I love that students feel comfortable enough to question my practices...mind you, they are very respectful when they do. Two, the biggest struggle for students was plugging in x-values to solve for y, a middle school standard that I was not really wanting to assess. My point is that my students and I worked together to find problems and solve the problem without really knowing it until I took time to reflect on the lesson.

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  28. There are many "Opportunities for Innovation" all around us, in my classroom, and for me, personally. While entering the "tech" game late, I have found many innovative ideas: from a student telling me about his YouTube video, to picking up ideas myself to pass along from the same source. I have found myself embracing technology more and more recently, thanks to my new iPhone, well new to me anyway. (If anyone is laughing, I'm not offended...:) I have recently learned to text, complete with emojis, and even FaceTimed with friends and family recently, big steps for me! While my girls' track team gets a kick out of Coach Lewallen finally entering the current century, I have become more and more confident, the more I use my own devices, and feel much more at ease with passing along ideas, skills, etc. using technology. I have a long way to go, but over half the battle seems to be enjoying the process of learning new things.

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  29. My biggest takeaway from my this chapter was "Time". Time for reflection, time for self assessment, time for collaboration, time for innovation, all sound great but that time has to come from somewhere. I think that I need to devote more time for reflection. There are many great opportunities for learning and development that are offered but to really sink those ideas home and incorporate them into my teaching I feel like I need to devote more time for reflection. I need to write my ideas and thoughts down, then share those ideas. As stated in the chapter blogs and hashtags offer a great opportunity to not only reflect but also to connect.

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    1. Hi Michael,
      While I completely agree that we need to take time to incorporate these qualities into our professional learning, it seems that time is often the enemy: there is never enough of it! However, I have learned that the more thoughtful and deliberate I am, the less "extra" time I felt like I needed.

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  30. Currently, in our corporation we are not offered a lot of choice in the Professional Development opportunities. All of our PD is currently centered around technology.
    Working through the 8 areas of my personal/professional learning,
    Choice: Personally, I have chosen to do this book club as a PD opportunity. Voice: I am constantly sharing with others the things that I have learned. Reflection: this is a work in progress. Opportunity for innovation: I do this a lot in my personal life. Critical thinkers: constantly apply this to every area of my life. Problem solvers: I am usually better at adapting than innovating. Self assessment: I don't use this as much as I should. Connected learning: good at the local level, but need to branch out more.

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  31. The section on reflection really struck me. I reflect on my lessons everyday...in my head. I guess I never thought of a blog as a teacher's digital portfolio. I've started a professional blog, but put it to bed because in a world of thousands of teacher/bloggers, what would I have to say? Who would read it? But as a tool of reflection, it would have real merit for me. It really wouldn't matter if anyone read it--I just need it for having a record of what went well, what didn't go so well, and what I would change in the future. I could still put it out there--tweet and FB when there is a new entry, and maybe conversation would be sparked, but really, it'd be about the reflection.

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  32. Looking at the 8 Things to look for in Today's Classroom is really an excellent source of reflection in itself. I believe I am confident in my use of voice, choice, reflection time and critical thinking as those are things that I value in my personal life as well as my professional life so I think these things come naturally. I feel like I need to expand my horizons with giving students the opportunity for innovation which is why I am glad I am reading this book and feel like I have gained some knowledge and ideas! As for self assessment and connected learning, I know that I have some progress to make. I struggle with self assessment in my own professional development. I really would like to improve this practice for myself as well as my students. Our opportunities for connected learning are immense. To me, it almost seems like we are overloaded with opportunities for connected learning. I struggle with how to fit this in to the curriculum and still manage to get everything else done? I have only been teaching for 3 years so I know that these things will come with time, but I want to do my best for my students and taking things one step at a time can be very frustrating as I feel like I am denying them opportunities for learning and growth.

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  33. Where I work, teachers have a little of a voice when it comes to education. We have to team plan and team teach. So four first grade teachers all have to be teaching the EXACT same thing at the EXACT same time. Some classes need extra help say on telling time, but we are unable to really get in there and help those children that need it, because if we are not doing something at that time, it will go on our evaluation and/or will be receiving an email. Most of the children at my school will sadly not attend college. Most will be working jobs that they will have to count money. I taught success math a few years ago. My group was really struggling with counting/making change. Three other classrooms were on level or above level with it, so we had to move on since we have to do the same thing. Many teachers get upset that we cannot teach what our students need. It broke my heart when we just had to jump to the next activity, even though we pleaded for extra time with this group to get the concept.

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  34. Time for Reflection is definitely present in my classroom. I reflect what activities/lessons/tools worked in my classroom and what has not. I also often use socrative.com often to get feedback from my students to get their feedback to help reflect on projects and lessons.
    Of the other things to look for in the classroom Choice and Connected Learning appealed the most to me. Choice has been a huge part of this innovation process that this book has focused on. Being a social studies teacher, connections are hugely imported for students. From connections between topics in history to even other students. I am looking to create a video conference with other schools so my students can learn first hand about different cultures from kids their age.

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  35. One thing that stuck out to me was when he spoke about why we as adults don't model the learning process. That was something I struggled with early on in my teaching, the fear showing that I didn't know something in front of the students (and parents). With some of the questions I am asked in class and topics we discuss, there is no way for me to know the answer, so now I just say, "Well, let's find out together!" I think there is so much to say about showing the students that we don't know everything and that life is a learning experience. That paragraph reminded me that it is ok to learn with the students.

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    1. This week through me off with Spring Break. Anyway, I agree with you on having that fear of showing I don't know something. As a first year teacher, I want to put my best foot forward. I felt that this chapter reminded me of the same.

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  36. I find that my personal learning is lacking. When I have choice in my professional development, I'm excited. I am an ideal student. When I'm forced to attend professional development that takes me out of my classroom, I find that sometimes I can be a bratty student. Not engaged and probably not going to get there. Haha! I think that the BEST professional development would be opportunities to collaborate with others in my building and others in my district. Interdisciplinary units are so powerful, but with limited/no time to create these activities, I find that my coworkers and I struggle to effectively create these options.

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    1. Voice and choice is so important not only to our students, but to our teachers as well. Our building has done learning strands in the past as an option to further allow teachers opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across the building, while also exploring an area of interest. Something that I think helps drives those conversations with PD, is allowing for that reflection time. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself! :)

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  37. Many times a school's’ success starts with the staff and we forget that. A teacher that enjoys coming to work is more likely to assist growing the school to success than a teacher that dreads everyday. When given choices as professionals to discuss and problem solve what the staffs feels is important can enhance school environment. I enjoy our Wednesday PD time in the morning. As a whole staff, we get to communicate needs, bounce ideas off each other, and grow. During that time we also need to reflect on oneself and discover what improvements we each need to make. This Innovation week created a feeling of personal reflection. I looked at what my schedule looks like during the day and actually made a chart of what I feel is successful and what needs to have improvement.

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  38. Over the past ten years or so, I have been through a variety of professional development sessions. Not all of them included components from "8 Things to Look for in Today's Classroom"' but quite a few did include one or more of the components. Many incorporated choice, time for reflection, voice, connected learning, and self-assessment. Those also seem to be the easiest to incorporate in the classroom. Engaging in professional development that incorporates the other three would also be beneficial, but would require much more time. I really like having a list of these components. It definitely makes me think about what students need in the classroom when I relate them to my professional development experiences.

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  39. “To truly integrate new learning, it is critical to carve out time for exploration, collaboration, and reflection to allow educators to apply what they are learning” (Couros, Ch. 12). How neat is it, that as educators, we can model the VERY things in our own learning that we want our students to be able to do. For each and every unit of study, I do my best to provide my students with voice, choice, connected learning opportunities, self-assessment, critical thinking, problem solving, time for reflection and opportunity for innovation. It is NOT easy. In fact, it requires so much more thoughtful planning and design for teachers to teach like this, rather than just get a pre-planned lesson out of a workbook or textbook. I am not saying that those types of lessons are bad, but they should be an integral part of the planning rather that the whole plan. When I started incorporating these traits within my own professional development, it was stressful and challenging, but so rewarding and has propelled my passion for my students, subject and school. “...if you want to be innovative, you have to disrupt your routine” (Couros, Ch. 12).

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  40. In my role as an instructional coach, it is vital that I integrate reflection with teachers into my coaching. By allowing them to self-assess and reflect on their goals and instructional practices, we are able to determine our next steps together that will best improve student learning. I love the idea of implementing a digital portfolio that allows teacher to self-assess and set areas for growth. I feel these conversations could further strengthen my coaching relationships that I have with teachers.
    As far as PD, we try to integrate a lot of voice and choice for the best investment possible from teachers that will also grow them as educators. We have inquiry teams that consist of a variety of grade levels and allow teachers to dive into their professional passions and share with others. It's been a great way to help our teachers grow professionally as well as allow for continued innovation. "Allowing people to explore their passions is more likely to lead people to go deep and embrace what they have learned" (p.187).

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  41. Our administration has been working to change PD by implementing choice. Of course that choice is presented in the form of 3 sessions focused on topics chosen by the admin team. After reading
    Devious chapters, I presented my boss with the concept of EdCamps and encouraged her to consider holding an EdCamp for our staff for at least half of one of our PD days in August. Then, the topics discussed could become or evolve into topics for PLCs. Chosen by teachers, lead by teachers. She shared with me that she was already planning to change the PLC structure for next year and that an EdCamp approach might fit. After reading this chapter, I plan to bring to her the idea of having teachers reflect in a digital format at the end of each PLC meeting not for the purpose of admin "checking in" but for the benefits that personal reflection has on professional learning.
    I really want to make this quote: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” And the "I Learn" graphic into posters for my office. Anyone else?!?!

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