Thursday, August 15, 2013

Building a Learning Culture

Professional development manifests itself in many ways online and in person. It takes place through conversations, classes, Twitter chats, workshops, blogging, book studies, challenges, team meetings, etc.
Leadership Day 2013 Image by Scott McLeod

Model what you want to see

Sometimes the best professional development comes informally through the behaviors of others, influencing how I think and what I think about.

I learn so much from my children. We have fabulous conversations about life, they share new perspectives and creative solutions with me. They also teach me how to be a better person through their inquiries and their behaviors.

I do my best to be a good model for them, but some of their behaviors are ones I'd like to see change, but no matter how much we talk about it, they continue with the same behaviors. That's when it dawns on me, they are behaving the way we the parents are behaving. So, if I want their behaviors to change, it means my behaviors have to change.

This same principle of modeling what you want to see in others applies to other settings such as the online community, the classroom, the school building, and the district office.

I'm fortunate to be surrounded by those who model what they want to see. For example, a learning culture is strong in our district, and it shows in our behaviors.

In the past two weeks, I've been privy to these leaders stepping forward as learners to model what they want to see:
  • CCJH Principal, Courtney Castelhano, decided to learn several new tech tools, including blogging, for the purpose of modeling for her staff how technology can push beyond the four walls of the classroom
  • FPES Principal, Brenda Farris, encourages a blogging community at her campus, and learns along with them through her own blog
  • SMES Principal, Heather Wallace, and CCJH Principal, Courtney Castelhano, brainstorm ways to promote collaboration between our sixth grades at the elementary school and seventh grades at CCJH via a STEM Blog
  • Tech Director, Jon Castelhano, inspires me with his forward thinking and solutions that are outside the box
  • I received an email to several people about an amazing blog that Common Core Coach, Jodi Walker, wanted to share with others--sharing her learning from her newly established PLN
  • CCJH Math Teacher, Tina Jada, steps forward to establish an after school STEM club based on gaming and programming, new to Jada, and an idea she grew at ISTE13

Building PLN

I also have the privilege of learning with my PLN, one that has mainly been built through the Edublogs Teacher Challenges, and keeps growing. Great amounts of learning comes from my PLN through:
Final thoughts

Learning takes place daily when your mind is open to it. Learning is not something that needs a workshop or a class for it to occur.

It's important to create learning communities and networks with the people next door as well as those across the globe. While some communities grow faster than others, there's always a starting place,  always room for growth, and it starts with modeling what you want to see.
  • How do you influence others to be learners and to challenge themselves to grow?
  • Who do you learn with? When do you learn? What do you learn about?
  • How do you share your learning with others?
This post was written for Leadership Day, a challenge from Scott McLeod.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How are We Using Technology in Classrooms?

Technology has changed how we do things in our daily lives such as shopping, banking, communicating, and it has changed how we should do school.
Photo Credit: Reeding Lessons via Compfight cc

When I was a child, I remember spending so much time going through microfiche to find just the right bit of information to share with the teacher. In those days, finding the right information and recollecting that information was the mark of a good student.

Today, knowledge and information is at our fingertips. In fact, there is so much information that it's tough to know where to start and what's the best source to use. Therefore, accessing the right information at the right time is more important than just finding information.

Focusing on skills rather than knowledge is a shift in how we do school. It changes what students are taught and how they are taught.

What do these shifts look like in the classroom?

This type of learning is easy to capture because there are artifacts as evidence of learning. I could have gone to any number of AJUSD blogs to look for artifacts, but was able to find a plethora of content to share from Mrs. Hamman's post titled, The End of Another Great Year!

Final thoughts

How we “do school” has changed, and focusing on 21st century learning skills is the shift taking place. We see this shift in the Common Core State Standards, and we see this shift as a necessity to prepare students for college and careers.

Change isn't easy, but it's a necessity. I'm proud of our school district, because we are focused on giving our students 21st century, student-centered classrooms.
  • What shifts do you see in how we "do school"?
  • Change takes time, and progression occurs one step at a time. What goals have you made to take another step forward this school year?
  • What questions or comments do you have regarding this post?

Note: This post was written because I was asked to speak at the Rotary Club meeting about how AJUSD is using technology in the classrooms.