Friday, October 25, 2013

So, How's it going so far.....

Before I begin I want to apologize to any grammar teachers out there. I promise to do my best but it was never my strongest subject! This post will have a couple of different thoughts I am reflecting on; Schoology, experiences at the ILC, and leadership.
A look at my Schoology experience:  I am about 3 weeks into this Schoology experiment and I have already found some great uses for it. I officially have 2 courses up and runnig. My students have given me some positive feedback about their experience with it so far. They love the look of Schoology and how it operates like social media. I enjoy the ease of submission of assignments and the little reminder bar to the side to help remember due dates and what's coming up. I am using the free version as of right now and I know I am merely scratching the surface as to what the possibilities could be with this LMS. However, it is integrating into my courses they way I had envisioned it. For one the discussion forum is great. I have discovered that to reduce paper in my classroom I have started using this for my exit tickets. I simply tell the student that by the end of the class they must respond to the daily prompt on Schoology. It is a great way to get instant feedback and measure what my students take away from class. I also like the grading function on the discussion threads because I can do it all from the same screen. The dropbox submission seamlessly integrates with Google Drive and that makes adding papers and other items super easy. I need to work on expanding my personal connections and find other teachers that are using Schoology so I can build a network of resources. 

A glance at the ILC experience as of lately: One thing for sure this is a great place to flip your classroom. For those that don't know I am the instructor for the Academy EDU and Project EDU courses here. I have the best job....literally! I love the art of teaching and I am passionate about sharing that with others. I get to do this daily with students that are excited to be here and learn about a career in education. One thing for sure, I am surrounded by like minded individuals. The staff at the ILC enjoy what they are doing and are here for one purpose....the Students. At the beginning of the year the Director opened up with "Do what's best for the students!" Anytime I want to try something new I ask myself...." this what's best for the students?" It's amazing what that simple little question can do to your planning process. One of my favorite classes is Project EDU. This class is intended to be Project based and give 8th grade students a glimpse into the life of teachers. Right now they are busy creating Professional Development for teacher from a student perspective. I simply asked, if you could share one lesson with teachers to help them make their classes innovative and engaging what would it be? From there they have guided the process. I help by answering questions and being a "guide on the side." They created their own rubric for the project and spent a couple weeks researching lesson plans, goals, objectives, and assessments. For the final project they are going to video tape their lessons and create a Vimeo or YouTube channel to share with the district. 
Last but what I feel most important leadership: This may be rant so if you are not interested in that you can tune out now. As teachers we are doing a disservice by not being leaders in our classroom. You are the teacher but are you the leader? Do students feel that you truly care about how they are doing and if they are going to succeed? I have heard it all before... "That's not my job to care?"...."I just teach and they are suppose to learn"..." I give assignments they complete them". For some of us we have been stuck in a mind set that is stagnant. This experience has truly peaked my creative side (granted it's very small) and I feel I am being intentional with my efforts to truly focus on the experience for my students. I was the guy that made kids write out goals for the year. "Now give me 2 academic goals on your index cards." You know you have done that at some point in time and every year a student would ask for an example and I would rattle...." You know like I will not get below a B in school." I use to worry so much about getting to every standard and making sure that I had covered what was needed before the TEST! SMH!!! That is terrible. Who leads that fear of a TEST. As teachers we need to accept the fact the we are Agents of Change! We truly can make a difference and we have to buy into the experience first before we can ever sell it to our students. Listen, I know you need grades for a report card because every child deserves $10 bucks for an A....that may be a little low for the going rate. But, how do we get students to buy into the fact that the grade is not the most important part of the project? I am tired of hearing "tell me what I need to do to get an A!" It's how they grow in process that matters. How they learn from their mistakes and adapt so that the next time they don't repeat it. That is what means the most. Let's take a chance and fail so we all learn. We are not perfect and we can't be backed into a corner by a bunch of test and evaluation rubrics. Let's not be stifled by our limitations. I am committed to making this year different. I want to inspire my students to think for themselves and allow them to be part of the process more than ever.  Encourage them to fail and try new things. Who knows....through this process I may just become a Changed Agent myself!
Until next time! Embrace the Change!