THE RAMBLINGS OF
Steven practices the art of reflection in his first vlog.
The two of us have noticed that many of our elementary students have trouble navigating a disagreement. This is not to say that every student we come across struggles with the concept, however, there are a number of individuals that have a tendency to take disagreement personally or consider it to be a challenge of right or wrong.
We feel that some basic guidelines might help students when navigating a disagreement with their peers. Of course, grade level and age affect how the content is presented but essentially the approach comes down to staying calm and listening. Our three-step plan is as follows:
Step 1: Listen
Here, we defer to Webster’s definition “to pay attention to sound”. The key word in this clarification is “attention”. Take turns and focus on the other person’s point of view. Effective listening is not remaining silent to plan what you will say next but to understand the other person’s perspective.
Step 2: Consider
Now that they have listened to an alternative perspective, we ask them to consider it. Put themselves in the other person’s position. Try to understand WHY the other person is thinking this way and if there is validity to their argument in comparison to their own.
Step 3: Acknowledge
There can be more than one way to acknowledge disagreement. There is the possibility that one of the parties will see the misunderstanding or alternative view and both will come to an agreement about the topic. Also, there might not be an agreement other than to confirm that they hear each other but still hold their own belief. Our hope is to teach them that there are times that they will “agree to disagree” and that’s perfectly acceptable and perhaps more mature than agreeing for agreement’s sake. The point is that both individuals understand that there are different ways to view things and the move forward without ill will.
While these are simple rules for disagreement, we believe it is a solid framework that allows students to understand how to appropriately disagree with another.
At this point in the year, tension, emotion, and anxiety run high for teachers, but more importantly for students. As adults, we often forget how difficult it can be to be a child. Sensing the charged environment, Steven drafted a quick Pages document to gauge how his students were feeling. It gauged what was going well personally and academically, Conversely, what was not going well personally and academically. The students' words stand alone.
Given that Steven is brilliant, I quickly followed suit.
Amidst this busy testing season, take a moment to see what may be distracting your students.
Did you know there are 138 “national celebration days” in the month of March alone?
Some of our personal favorites are:
Let’s assume that there is an average of 100 National Days a month. In total that would mean there are 1,200 National Celebrations a year. Now, we all know as teachers, we receive an official day of recognition as well. But in reality, that means that we receive the same amount of recognition as a pickle.
On a more serious note, as educators we know that we are not often recognized for the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into our profession.
However, somehow a stigma has arisen over teacher recognition.
Many teachers have been shown that it is wrong to be recognized or to be held as an example or role model. Some teachers have been alienated by their peers and shamed for their hard work and willingness to be recognized.
Do others really think we became teachers for the attention and glory?
Make no mistake, there is nothing that can match those brilliant moments when a parent or student lets us know how our teaching has affected them, but this doesn’t necessarily happen as often as it should and many become disenchanted and lose their way.
Why can’t we celebrate and recognize each other between these moments?
If you walk through any school on any given day, you’ll find examples of student success: bulletin boards overflowing with exemplars, congratulatory announcements over the intercom, etc.
But, in your school or district, how often are teachers recognized in this same manner?
Teaching can seem like working on your own remote island, with your own curriculum and your own students. Having a peer group, school, district, or state who collaborates, offers ideas, and most importantly acknowledges your efforts and achievements can make all the difference.
What small things can we do to recognize each other?
1. Teachers should kick off staff meetings with celebrations.
2. Praise peers after classroom visits. Publicly or personally.
3. Continually call out extra efforts in newsletters and social media posts.
4. Send an email to the staff or parents on ClassDojo after witnessing a teacher’s impact on students.
5. Ask teachers to share their areas of expertise.
6. Have someone cover their duty.
7. Have a member of the support staff takeover for the last thirty minutes on a Friday.
We need to become more intentional about recognizing and celebrating each other. Teachers are consistently overworked and underappreciated, that they struggle to celebrate another teacher who is recognized for things they have done in their own classroom.
If there is nothing else that you can take from this post, please remember this:
You are worth, every bit of recognition you receive and more.
Do not be ashamed of it. Be proud of your hard work and that of your students. Do not let others dismiss it or lessen it. We must remember that meaningful recognition focuses us back on our work and that work is to amplify, inspire, and push our students forward.
Finally, remember, not everyone can do what you do. Not even Hugh Jackman.
It has been extremely difficult to adequately explain the purpose and benefits of Virtual Team Teaching. Collaboration has become such a hot topic within the educational realm, that it can often lose the meaning behind it. Therefore we do not want to feed the buzz of collaboration. Instead we are seeking to innovate collaboration.
The heart of Innovation can be an overwhelming concept in and of itself, however it is the simplest innovations that can make the greatest impacts.
Take for instance, PBS' School Inc. In its first episode, Andrew Coulson highlights the slate and how it was initially used for individual practice. Eventually, larger versions were implemented in the classroom. This simple innovation, completely changed how teaching and learning occurred in the classroom which continues to influence the learning today.
We feel as though this same philosophy is inherently present within Virtual Team Teaching. It is a simple innovation that can greatly influence education.
The Three Keys to Virtual Team Teaching:
This is just the beginning. Once teachers and students have become more comfortable with innovative collaboration, they can begin to reach out to the world in deeper and more meaningful ways. In the past, our students have been able to consistently collaborate with high school students from Jamaica and university students from Malaysia.
If the simple addition of a larger slate and piece of chalk changed classrooms for decades; why can’t the simple addition of a small camera connecting classrooms every day do the same?
The best part? Our girls were the most eager to participate in the hands-on experience.
Tools we used:
We created different kind collaborative board running with the theme of "Think Again". We used our iPads and physical space to connect student ideas visually and fluidly. Students were tasked with rapid fire research and connections. First, one student selected an image or video related to Martin Luther King Jr. in the PBS Learning Media database. Once the other students saw what was presented, they quickly looked for a pictorial or video connection within the same database. The first to produce a piece of media with a valid connection, placed their iPad next to the original. Students then transitioned to the last image presented and continued from there.
Here is a sampling of the connections made by students:
Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. ->
Photo of the hotel in which MLK Jr. was assassinated ->
Video of his funeral procession ->
Photo of his memorial with his speech engraved in stone ->
Video of MLK Jr.'s famous, "I Have a Dream Speech"
This activity was anything but stagnant staring at a screen.
Our students were upset that so many people misunderstand technology in the classroom. They decided to reflect & educate. They read ISTE Student Standards and decided to use their iPads and Book Creator to show the power of Apple's iPad and what it means to them.
My colleague Steven Lamb and I have toiled over a change encounter that occurred in San Antonio, TX.
ISTE 2017: there was a desperate need for coffee. Steven and I ventured to a hotel coffee shop to rejuvenate for the next presentation. The woman in front of us overheard our conversation concerning education and said, “Are you teachers? I was a teacher!” She turned to the cashier and says, “Whatever they want, it’s on me. In fact, whomever is a teacher in the line, it’s on me. “ After grabbing a much needed latte and chai, an additionally grateful gentleman in the same line, stuck up a friendly conversation. As it turned out, this kind man was Raul Gutierrez, the CEO of Tinybop apps. As our conversation evolved, we discussed the importance of global mindsets and how Tinybop was designed with this important aspect as a driving force. This was an opportunity. An opportunity to pursue the passion of highlighting the Navajo Language. He said the only thing we needed to hear, “let’s make it happen.”
Thus began, the incredible planning to bring Navajo to the Tinybop Human Body App. To merge tradition with emerging technology. After a series of brainstorming sessions, it became evident that this should not be a unilateral endeavor. Rather it should be what it was always meant to be: Community. The Navajo language is not isolated to tone, intonation, and pronunciation. It’s about culture and a greater sense of family. We reached out to everyone we knew in the schools, in our local area, and family. Our local science center jumped at the chance to provide the venue while a local restaurant provided lunch. Community.
Navajo members began arriving. Senior citizens, high school students, preschoolers. Every age and background imaginable united over a common goal. Suddenly, a barrage of unbelievable moments emerged.
Adults: “Goodness, what part of the brain is the amygdala located?” “Let me look it up.” Elementary school boy: “The amygdala is located above the spinal cord. See?” As he passes the iPad with the Tinybop app activated, he points to the spinal cord and the amygdala located above it. Yes, a 9-year-old upstaged the adults around him. How? Every member of our community has a voice.
Then there are several adults who were on their phone. Out of the need of a distraction? Not at all. They were calling family members asking how to say certain terms. Then turning to us asking, “Will you have another event? We have other family members that want to come.”
Next, the kindergartener who was giggling endlessly, while he manipulated the iPad app with ease. We asked him, “Gus, if you take the skeletal system out of the body, what would happen to him?” “He’d be a blob”. The community was not only emerged in language and terminology, but the acquisition of valuable scientific knowledge.
Finally, a man, who was a stranger that morning, turns to you and says, “I’m proud of you. Thank you for dong this.” It forever alters your preconceived notions not only the capacity of technology, but of the power of community.